Eastern Notes: Kanter, Pistons, Tyndall

Veteran big man Enes Kanter decided to sign with the Celtics with hopes of competing for an NBA championship next season, he explained to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

Kanter, 27, opted to leave the Blazers after spending the second half of last season with the organization, joining a Boston team that has the likes of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward on the active roster.

“The reason I went [to Boston] is for a championship,” Kanter told Kennedy. “I feel like the team is really young and willing to learn and we have an amazing group of guys. I feel like we can beat any team on any floor. All we have to do is just be good friends and stay together. Let’s just go have fun! It’s definitely going to be a very, very exciting season.”

Kanter registered major interest from a handful of teams at the start of free agency, but he and agent Mark Bartelstein worked quickly to reach an agreement with the Celtics. He’ll likely be named the team’s starting center for the 2019/20 season.

“It’s my ninth year in the league and I understand that, for many people, the money is important. For me, the most important thing is being with a team that you’re really happy on and playing with a team that’s competing for a championship,” Kanter said. “That’s was the big thing for me. For everybody else, the money matters [more]. For me, the No. 1 thing was winning.

“After I got released by the New York Knicks, I would always hear, ‘Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics,’ but I never really got a chance to talk to them. When free agency started and the clock hit 6 pm ET, I actually talked to Danny Ainge. He told me about his plans and everything. Then, the second time he called me, I answered the phone and it wasn’t him. It was Kemba Walker and he was on Danny’s phone. Kemba said, ‘Hey, my man, are we doing this or not?’ Then, he talked to me about the team and everything. That showed me what kind of leader he is, and that made me very happy. That was one of the biggest reasons [I signed with Boston].”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The mother of former Grand Rapids Drive forward Zeke Upshaw has reached a private settlement in her federal lawsuit with the NBA and Pistons franchise, according to T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com. Upshaw tragically passed away after collapsing near the end of a G League game in 2018, with his mother Jewel filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the months that followed. NBA officials released the following statement on the matter: “Jewel Upshaw, the National Basketball Association, and the Detroit Pistons announced today that they have resolved their prior dispute and the litigation claims against the National Basketball Association and the Detroit Pistons pending in federal district court have been dismissed. The NBA and Pistons express their sympathies to Jewel Upshaw and the rest of Zeke’s family on his tragic passing.”
  • The Pistons are expected to name Donnie Tyndall as new head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days. Tyndall has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors 905, helping win a league championship under Jerry Stackhouse in 2017.
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