Enes Kanter

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Celtics, Jordan, Raptors

After signing with the Celtics in the offseason, Enes Kanter was the team’s starting center on opening night, but hasn’t suited up since then, having been on the shelf since the regular season opener due to a left knee contusion. Having missed seven games, Kanter has now been cleared to return, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets.

While it’s not clear what role he’ll play in his first game back, Kanter should be active for the Celtics on Monday night vs. Dallas. Boston won all seven contests he missed and will look to keep up that streak now that the big man is reentering the rotation.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With Tony Parker set to have his jersey retired in San Antonio, Mike Monroe of The Athletic revisits the 2001 draft, when the French point guard was nearly selected at No. 21 by the Celtics. As Monroe tells it, new Boston GM Chris Wallace was prepared to select Parker, but was overruled by C’s legend and team president Red Auerbach, who wanted Joseph Forte instead. Forte only ended up playing in eight games for the Celtics, while Parker – selected by the Spurs at No. 28 – became a six-time All-Star and future Hall-of-Famer.
  • In his Friday column for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe noted that DeAndre Jordan has gotten off to a poor start in the first season of a lucrative four-year contract with the Nets, failing to deter opponents from scoring at the rim. Brooklyn will need more from the veteran center going forward to justify its investment, Lowe argued. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Jordan was one of the few bright spots during a blowout loss to Phoenix on Sunday, scoring 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds.
  • In the wake of the Raptors‘ impressive shorthanded win over the Lakers, Mark Medina of USA Today explores how Toronto has set itself up in both the short-term and long-term to stay competitive despite the loss of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Randle, Trier

As head coach David Fizdale promised, Frank Ntilikina is getting his chance to prove whether he can be the Knicks‘ solution at point guard, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. After barely being used in the first few games, Ntilikina made his first start of the season Friday night, playing 38 minutes in a narrow loss to the Celtics.

The third-year point guard’s strengths and weaknesses were both on display. He defended well against a variety of players, but only had two assists and his shot remains a concern. He was 4-of-9 for the game, but has made just 7-of-24 attempts from the field for the season and is only 3-of-10 beyond the arc.

“He’s learning,” former teammate Enes Kanter said. “Obviously, he was learning last year, but there was too much pressure on him. Now I feel he feels more comfortable and more confident out there. Obviously, I think he’s one of the best defenders out there and his vision on the court is amazing. I’m happy to see him grown because he’s an amazing dude on and off the court.”

Although Fizdale has vowed to give all the players in New York’s crowded backcourt a chance to prove themselves, Ntilikina’s start came largely because of circumstance with Elfrid Payton injured and Dennis Smith Jr. absent because of a death in the family. Even though the Knicks offered a show of confidence in their No. 8 pick from 2017 by picking up his fourth-year option last month, Ntilikina will eventually have to produce more on offense to earn consistent minutes.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Although Kanter had a contentious end to his time with the Knicks, he enjoyed a friendly reunion with the team Friday night, Vorkunov adds in the same story. Upset over a lack of playing time, Kanter asked for a trade and was eventually waived in February. All seems to be forgiven as he hugged team president Steve Mills on the court. “I like all these guys — even with Julius Randle, because we had this beef and everything,” Kanter said. “… I see there are a lot of good characters on the team. I’m really excited to see them grow together.”
  • Not having a play-making guard to rely on is affecting Randle’s game, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Randle took just seven shots Friday and had a season-low eight points. He turned the ball over six times, giving him 25 in the past five games, and is just 1-for-15 on 3-pointers for the season.
  • Opening-night starter Allonzo Trier has fallen completely out of the rotation, Berman notes in the same piece. Fizdale wouldn’t explain why Trier racked up his third straight DNP, but his time has gone to free agent addition Wayne Ellington. Another offseason signee, Taj Gibson, also wasn’t used against the Celtics.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Fred VanVleet, Raptors, 25, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in 2018
VanVleet was a key reserve in the Raptors’ run to the championship. With Danny Green‘s departure, he’s now a backcourt starter alongside Kyle Lowry. Green was mainly a floor spacer, while VanVleet has provided the added element of playmaking to help make up for the enormous loss of Kawhi Leonard. He’s averaging a team-high 7.2 assists through the first five games while getting the line more often and delivering his usual excellent shooting from deep. An unrestricted free agent next summer, VanVleet will attract plenty of attention in a weak FA market.

James Ennis, Sixers, 29, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2019
Ennis has bounced around the league, wearing six different uniforms since his rookie year in 2014/15. He saw action in 18 regular-season and 11 postseason games with Philadelphia after being acquired from the Rockets in a trade deadline swap. Thus far this season, Ennis has retained a rotation spot and helped around the boards (5.8 RPG in 14.0 MPG). Ennis has a $2.13MM player option after the season — if can remain a contributor on a contender, perhaps he’ll feel comfortable opting out and testing the market for additional security.

Marcus Morris, Knicks, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019
Morris caused a lot of consternation in the Spurs’ organization by reneging on a two-year verbal agreement and then signing a one-year deal with New York, giving him more money this season and the freedom to explore the market again next year. In his first five games with the Knicks, Morris is the one doing the squawking. He’s already picked up a league-high three technicals. He’s also off to a slow shooting start (35%). It’s hard to see Morris enhancing his value with New York but his expiring contract could be attractive to a contender looking for a frontcourt player.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019
Theis’ $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed until July 3rd and there will a number of factors playing into the Celtics’ decision next summer, especially whether Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt in. What Theis can control is being productive when he gets opportunities and making it a tougher decision for the front office. Theis needs to have more nights like he did Wednesday, when coach Brad Stevens used him for 28 minutes and he produced 11 points and nine rebounds. The 6’8” Theis will see quite a bit of time at the ‘five’ spot in downsized lineups.

Wilson Chandler, Nets, 32, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Chandler quietly latched on with the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract while they inked deals with high-profile free agents Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Chandler’s chances of carving out a role in coach Kenny Atkinson‘s rotation was squashed by a 25-game league suspension for a failed PED test. It’s uncertain what Brooklyn plans are for Chandler once he becomes eligible on December 15. However, the suspension won’t make it any easier for his agent to find his client work next summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Theis, Strus, Langford, Williams

Daniel Theis is making a strong case to start at center for the Celtics, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports.

Theis, who has only started five of the 129 regular season games he’s played with Boston over the past two seasons, has more experience in Brad Stevens’ system than any other big man on the roster. That could give him an edge over Enes Kanter and Robert Williams. He’s also adept at making defensive switches.

“If you watch closely, that’s a tied-together group on that end of the court,” Stevens said of playing Theis with the other starters. Theis is making $5MM this season but his $5MM salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Max Strus is a serious candidate to get the 15th and final spot on the opening night roster, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets.  The shooting guard just had his two-way contract converted to a standard two-year deal with a partial guarantee. The guarantee is worth $415K, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, he could still be waived, Murphy adds. The 23-year-old Strus went undrafted after playing his college ball at DePaul.
  • Stevens offers high praise for his first-year players, including Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Tacko Fall, and Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets“That’s as good of a group of rookie workers that I’ve ever been around …those guys grind,” he said.
  • The team has picked up the 2020/21 options on Jayson Tatum and Williams. Get all the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, Davis, Boucher, Robinson

The Celtics are still decided whether to use center Enes Kanter as a starter or have him play a bigger role on the second unit, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports. Kanter signed a two-year deal worth approximately $10MM to be a rotation player for Boston.

“Everybody’s preference is to start,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “But he didn’t seem to me like he was losing sleep over it. He understands what we were thinking, and I told him no decisions have been made. We’re still mixing and matching. We’ll be doing it all the way until Oct. 21.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has taken rookie Terence Davis under his wing, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. The former Ole Miss guard went undrafted but earned a two-year deal from Toronto after impressing with the Nuggets’ summer league team. “He’s got to get a lot better obviously to be able to help this team but you see flashes,” VanVleet said. “You see what he brings to the table. But he’s kind of in an awkward position. I know they’re asking him to do some primary ball-handling which is probably not natural for him so I think in a more traditional second unit with a point guard (on the floor with him) he can play off the ball more.”
  • Raptors power forward Chris Boucher has impressed coach Nick Nurse to the point where he might be a rotation player, Wolstat tweets. Boucher’s $1,588,231 salary becomes guaranteed if he makes the opening night roster. Up to that point, Boucher has a $125K guarantee. The 6’10” Boucher appeared in 28 games with the Raptors last season and is one of eight players on the training camp roster with a partial or non-guaranteed contract.
  • Center Mitchell Robinson has already outplayed his team-friendly four-year contract and an extension may be in the Knicks’ best interests, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News examines. Robinson is eligible next summer for a four-year extension in excess of $53MM. Robinson could sign that extension as early as July and would require the Knicks to tear up Robinson’s $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Bondy adds.

Atlantic Notes: Burke, N. Young, Kanter, Raptors

Addressing the backup point guard battle this week, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said that he wants to see the candidates for that spot “making shots and just guarding,” per Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

As Bodner points out, those criteria would seem to favor Raul Neto over Trey Burke, since Neto has historically been a more efficient shooter than Burke and is also considered a stronger on-ball defender. However, Burke has made a strong impression early in camp for the Sixers, earning rave reviews from teammates Al Horford and Ben Simmons.

“I was really impressed with a guy like Trey Burke,” Horford said after the Sixers’ first day of practice. “(He) came in with a lot of energy, really scoring the ball at will, just being very active.” Simmons added that Burke “played amazing” on Tuesday.

Unlike the 14 other players who are expected to make the Sixers’ regular season roster, Burke doesn’t have a fully guaranteed salary for 2019/20, so his hold on a roster spot is somewhat tenuous. If he continues to play like he did on day one though, he may not be considered the club’s 15th man for long.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • Nick Young was among the veteran free agents who joined the Knicks for offseason workouts and scrimmages, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. That doesn’t mean that the Knicks necessarily have any interest in Young — Lance Thomas and Carmelo Anthony also participated in some of those scrimmages, and Thomas signed with Brooklyn while Anthony remains a free agent.
  • Asked this week about his stint with the Knicks, Enes Kanter took a shot at his old team, as Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald tweets. That’s why I chose [the] Celtics,” Kanter said. “They don’t tank.”
  • After starting just 28 games in his first three seasons with the Raptors, Fred VanVleet is hoping to crack the starting five with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green no longer in the picture, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “I wouldn’t say it’s the end-all, be-all, [but] I’ve been vocal in saying that it’s something I would like to do in my career,” VanVleet said. “If I end up being a bench player my whole career, then so be it. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m reaching for the stars, I don’t put limits on myself.”
  • Elsewhere at Sportsnet.ca, Steven Loung explores what the Raptors should do with their big expiring contracts for Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and VanVleet.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, De La Rosa

In the wake of Frank Ntilikina‘s impressive performance in France’s World Cup upset of Team USA, a series of New York beat writers and columnists are making the case that Ntilikina – the subject of trade rumors earlier this year – has earned a longer look from the Knicks this season.

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News argues that the Knicks should exercise Ntilikina’s $6.2MM team option for the 2020/21 season (a decision is due on October 31) and give him a real chance to earn a role for this year’s squad. One scout suggests to Ian Begley of SNY.tv that Ntilikina is playing in the World Cup with a poise and confidence that he hasn’t showed yet in the NBA — if that confidence carries over training camp, it could bode well for his future in New York.

Meanwhile, Frank Isola of The Athletic writes that Knicks president Steve Mills hasn’t given up on Ntilikina despite the fact that the club has brought in several other point guards to compete for minutes. Elfrid Payton and other previous backcourt additions like Trey Burke are considered “[Scott] Perry guys,” says Isola, referring to New York’s general manager.

As we wait to see what the Knicks’ plan for Ntilikina is, let’s round up a few more notes on the team:

  • The differing opinions on Ntilikina within the Knicks’ organization aren’t unusual, given the organization’s current management structure, says Isola. League sources tell The Athletic that some of the scouts and executives brought in by Perry have clashed with the scouts and executives who worked under Mills and remain in the organization. “That’s always been the case,” a former Knicks exec tells Isola. “They keep a lot of people from different regimes and that causes some friction.”
  • After suggesting earlier this week that the Knicks’ ownership group is a deterrent for the team’s potential free agent targets, Enes Kanter clarified that he personally had a positive experience with James Dolan and doesn’t agree with players who avoid the team for that reason, tweets Begley.
  • Former Illinois big man Adonis De La Rosa is among the players working out with the Knicks this week in the hopes of securing a training camp invite from the team, a source tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
  • Knicks head coach David Fizdale issued an invite to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski to make an appearance at the team’s training camp this fall, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Coach K isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be able to attend, but said he expects former Blue Devil RJ Barrett to make a smooth transition to playing in New York.

Kanter: Knicks’ Ownership A Deterrent For Free Agents

Appearing on The Full 48, Howard Beck’s podcast, new Celtics center Enes Kanter offered a theory for why the Knicks haven’t had much success in the free agent market in recent years despite a big market and plenty of cap room. According to Kanter, an ownership group led by James Dolan is considered a deterrent by players around the NBA.

Dolan hasn’t had an active role in basketball decisions in recent years, but he has still repeatedly made headlines based on run-ins with fans and vendettas against media outlets, among other issues.

“I’m not blaming anybody. I had an amazing time with the Knicks,” Kanter said, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “But other teammates I talked to or if they’re on different teams, they always said, ‘Amazing city, MSG is amazing. Everything is so good. But the ownership.’ They always keep saying, ‘But the ownership.’

“… I can tell. I don’t get into it too much. The players, when we get in the locker room, we talk about what’s going on. And the players always see how the management or how ownership treat other players, treat other players around.”

The Knicks spent most of the 2018/19 season gearing up for free agency, trading rising star Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas in a pre-deadline deal to create enough cap room to sign two maximum-salary players in July. However, the club struck out on its top targets and ultimately used that room to sign veterans like Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, and Wayne Ellington.

Other than Randle, no free agent signed by the Knicks this offseason has more than one fully guaranteed year on his new contract, so the team will have the flexibility to be active again in free agency in 2020 and/or 2021. Still, based on his comments to Beck, Kanter didn’t sound confident that the perception of the franchise will shift overnight.

“I always tell (players), the Knicks are amazing. It’s the Garden, it’s the Mecca. If you win in New York, you’re the king of the world,” Kanter said, per Bondy. “Some of the players are I guess scared to come here and don’t even want to deal with that.”

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Feaster, Donaldson, Ainge

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will have a new-look roster to work with this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, and while replacing All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker will be the easy part, replacing defensive stalwarts Al Horford and Aron Baynes should prove a bit more challenging.

Another question is who starts — Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown? Do both of them start, with Marcus Smart back on the bench? According to Stevens, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the lineups mesh together.

“We’re obviously going to have to figure out lineups that work best together,” Stevens said. “Everybody is going to make a big deal over who starts, but we all know who the five guys are that are going to play the very most on our team, and everybody can probably write that down right now, and then it’s a matter of who fits best. They’re not all in the same position, but we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play the big spot and with which groups.”

Enes Kanter figures to get most minutes at center starting out, but young big Robert Williams could push for more playing time as the season progresses. The Celtics will also rely on Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier for frontcourt depth.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics have hired Allison Feaster as director of player development. Feaster is a former WNBA player and Harvard graduate who also worked in the G League.
  • Raptors data analyst Brittni Donaldson has been promoted to an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Nick Nurse, per a tweet from Stadium (Twitter link).
  • In a piece for NBC Sports Boston, Blakely writes that Danny Ainge is concerned with Stevens happiness this season, saying “My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job. I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s…you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”

Atlantic Notes: Burke, Kanter, Carmelo, M. Richardson

Trey Burke may have just a partially guaranteed training camp contract with the Sixers, but he’s overflowing with confidence that he can win a roster spot, relays Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The 26-year-old guard is expected to battle fellow free agent addition Raul Neto for playing time behind Ben Simmons and possibly a place on the team. However, Burke envisions a much larger role for himself.

“I think throughout stretches of the game we (Burke and Simmons) can play together and I can be out there with the starting lineup at times,” he told reporters. “That is the competitor in Trey Burke. That is who I am and what I bring to Philadelphia.”

Burke – whose minimum-salary contract reportedly has a $405K partial guarantee – hasn’t enjoyed a consistent role like that since his second season in the league. He was been with four teams in the past four years, splitting last season between the Knicks and Mavericks.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics signed Enes Kanter with the expectation that he will shoot more from the perimeter, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Kanter’s first step was to get together with Gordon Hayward, whom he played with in Utah, and a few more of his new teammates. “When I was in Boston, I played with (Hayward) in two-on-two action and I feel like he’s gained more confidence,” Kanter said. “When he played, he wasn’t scared of anything. It was me, Gordon, Jaylen Brown and Tacko (Fall). I was guarding Tacko. He’s good, man, and I love him. His personality is amazing, real good character. He’s a hard worker. I’m definitely really excited to play with him.”
  • Kanter made an appeal for someone to sign Carmelo Anthony during an appearance Wednesday morning on FOX Sports 1’s “First Things First” (Twitter link). “So you’re telling me a guy like ‘Melo can’t make a 15-man roster on 30 teams? It’s definitely crazy,” Kanter said. “Melo belongs in the NBA and he can still get 15-20 points.”
  • Malachi Richardson will play in Israel this season, but he tells Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops that he hasn’t given up on his NBA dream. “I think I just have to show teams who I am,” he said. “Just being able to go and play and just showing, ‘OK, this is why he was a first-round pick.’” Richardson played 22 games for the Raptors last season before being traded at the deadline to the Sixers, who waived him the next day.