Teams around the NBA are taking notice of New York Knicks center Enes Kanter’s dwindling playing time in the Big Apple.
The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov reported on Sunday that the Knicks are receiving calls about a deal involving Kanter and they are listening, although nothing has gained serious traction as of yet.
One of the most seasoned members of an inexperienced (and bad) Knicks roster has once again been virtually benched, this time in favor of Luke Kornet, during New York’s six-game road trip.
He’s come off the bench in the first four games of the swing, albeit his minutes have steadily increased from just 14 minutes on Dec. 27 against the Milwaukee Bucks, to 26 in Friday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Kanter put up 16 points and 15 rebounds in what was the Knicks’ third victory since Dec. 1 as they are 3-13 in their last 16 games.
It’s a rare win in a season of experimentation for new head coach David Fizdale. Despite Kanter putting together another solid season with 14.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, he was also benched for 12 games from Oct. 26 to Nov. 18 in favor of Mitchell Robinson.
His treatment has been somewhat puzzling considering Kanter is one of the most talented players on a Knicks roster destined to compete for the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. The 26-year-old has also been vocal about his love for New York and his desire to stay with the Knicks for as long as possible.
The Knicks, however, are on the cusp of major changes following this season. Not only do they have the chance of getting a generational talent in the draft, whether that be Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett, but they could be major players on the free-agent market that could yield a star talent like Kevin Durant.
It has made this season feel like one, elongated tryout for each and every player and prospect on the Knicks roster. In total, 15-different players have appeared over the first 39 games of the season.
The prospect of acquiring the likes of Williamson or Durant, both forwards, will only create a logjam in the frontcourt for the Knicks. Rookie Kevin Knox and the recovering Kristaps Porzingis are already vital assets of the organization’s future. While Porzingis’ natural position is the 4, he has the size to dominate at the center position and if the Knicks do in fact add premier talent to their forward spots, that shift could become a very real possibility.
It would make Kanter expendable, though the Knicks’ current tactics involving him has seemingly given off that vibe to the rest of the league.