Enes Kanter’s patience with the New York Knicks looks to have whittled down to the very last straw. Now, it only seems like a matter of time before he’s traded away as the NBA’s Feb. 7 deadline approaches.
The 26-year-old veteran, who is one of the most experienced and offensively-talented players on the Knicks’ woeful roster, has fallen out of favor with first-year head coach David Fizdale to the point where he was coming off the bench for large stretches of the season. He came off the bench in 12-straight games behind rookie Mitchell Robinson from Oct. 22-Nov. 18 before getting benched again, for Luke Kornet this time, for six games between Dec. 27 and Jan. 8
Fizdale made it known that Kanter would begin missing games and listed as inactive to continue developing Robinson and Kornet, but injuries to Robinson at least ensured that he would be able to stay in the lineup.
However, after a rout at the hands of his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, Kanter suggested that he would be open to a trade that would get him regular playing time. After Kornet was injured during that very game, Fizdale approached Kanter on Wednesday morning and told him that he would be starting against the Rockets later that night.
Instead, Fizdale went back on his word and let Kanter sit on the bench the entire game. It was his first DNP (Did Not Play) of his career and left the center steaming after the game, which saw James Harden drop 61 points and the Knicks to 10-36 on the season.
“I think what they’re doing to me is pretty messed up,” Kanter said. “They told met his morning that I’m starting. Now I come to the game and I didn’t even play. I’m trying to be a good teammate, but I want to play basketball. If you’re going to play me here, play me. If not, just get me out of here.”
It seems as though the Knicks have been floating Kanter’s name on the trade market in recent weeks. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Knicks and Kings were in talks to swap expiring contracts. Kanter would go to the Kings and Zach Randolph would come to the Knicks.
However, Ian Begley of ESPN reported on Monday that the Knicks would ideally not like to take on any kind of salary in a trade involving Kanter. Basically, that could indicate the Knicks are looking for draft picks first and foremost rather than any kind of established NBA veteran.
If general manager Scott Perry can’t find a trade conducive to those requirements, a buyout would be the best option for both parties, making Kanter an unrestricted free agent.