Following the Knicks‘ eighth consecutive loss on Tuesday, Enes Kanter told reporters, including Marc Berman of The New York Post, that he met with general manager Scott Perry earlier in the week. During that meeting, Kanter expressed frustration with the Knicks’ losing and his own diminishing role, but didn’t ask to be traded, as Berman relays.
“I did not ask for a trade, no. I did not say, ‘Scott, try and trade me.’ No I did not say that,” Kanter said. “Because I like it here a lot. And I probably won’t say to Scott’s face, ‘Scott, I want to get traded.’ Because I like it here a lot. But again, in the end, we all are competitors, basketball players. I like it here so much, but again, I want to win. I want this team to get to the playoffs one day. This is my blood, man, I’m sorry. If anyone asks anything else, I’m not going to do it. I’m going out there to get a win every time.”
The Knicks, whose 9-29 record is tied for second-worst in the NBA, are missing their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, and are clearly in rebuilding mode this season. Given the direction of the franchise, New York has been prioritizing the development of younger players. Luke Kornet has taken over as the club’s starting center, displacing Kanter, who racked up 17 points and 12 rebounds in just 20 minutes off the bench on Tuesday.
While Kanter suggested that he doesn’t take issue with being removed from the starting lineup, he remains frustrated about playing a limited role when he believes he can help the team win games.
“I even asked Scott, if you were in my situation, what would you do?” Kanter said, according to Berman. “He said, ‘The whole league knows you. Right now, we know that you are a very, very good basketball player. Now I want you to go out there and try to have that good character, try to be a good teammate, and try to help all the people.’ I understand we’re not winning a lot right now. But I guess it’s all for the young guys.”
Although Kanter hasn’t formally requested a trade, the Knicks seem likely to thoroughly explore the market for the big man before this season’s February 7 trade deadline. However, his $18MM expiring contract will complicate trade talks, since New York doesn’t want to compromise its 2019 cap flexibility by taking back any multiyear salary. In order to move Kanter, the Knicks may have to find a comparable expiring deal — Jabari Parker‘s $20MM contract would be one example, though it’s unlikely that the Bulls would have any interest in Kanter.