Enes Kanter

Celtics Notes: Roster, Two-Way Slot, Tax, Begarin

Speaking today to reporters, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens suggested the team has completed its major offseason moves.

Stevens pointed out that Boston has 16 players on standard contracts (15 guaranteed salaries, plus Jabari Parker‘s non-guaranteed deal) and said he’s comfortable bringing this group to training camp, noting that any additional moves will likely be “tweaks around the edge” (Twitter links via Keith Smith of Spotrac).

The Celtics do still have one open two-way slot, and Stevens said the team is still considering how to fill it. There’s no rush to do so, since Boston could end up targeting a player who gets waived by another team this fall, according to Stevens (Twitter link via Smith).

Here’s more from the Celtics’ new president:

  • Discussing Boston’s key offseason additions, Stevens said the team likes Josh Richardson‘s toughness and ability to play multiple positions, and added that the Celtics were “very fortunate” to land Dennis Schröder and Enes Kanter for the taxpayer mid-level exception and the veteran’s minimum, respectively (all Twitter links via Smith).
  • Stevens has the green light to go into luxury-tax territory in 2021/22, which is why he didn’t want to trigger a hard cap this offseason by acquiring a player via sign-and-trade or using more than the taxpayer portion of the MLE, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
  • Stevens confirmed that second-round pick Juhann Begarin will remain overseas for at least the 2021/22 season (Twitter link via Weiss). Stevens added that the team will be monitoring Begarin and 2020 second-rounder Yam Madar “quite a bit” in Europe this year (Twitter link via Smith).

Celtics Sign Enes Kanter To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 13: Kanter has officially signed his contract, according to a team press release.

“Enes has a unique ability to both score and rebound. Beyond his on-court contributions, he is a great teammate. We are thrilled he chose to return to Boston,” Celtics president Brad Stevens said in a statement.


AUGUST 4, 11:21am: Kanter’s one-year deal will be worth $2.7MM, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

The veteran’s minimum for a player with Kanter’s 10+ years of experience is about $2.64MM, so it sounds this will be a minimum-salary contract.

However, Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link) says there’s still a chance the C’s could bump up that number and use part of the mid-level exception to complete the signing, depending on how the rest of the week plays out. Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) hears that the club has “three or four balls still in the air,” albeit nothing too major.


10:58am: The Celtics have reached an agreement to bring back veteran center Enes Kanter on a one-year contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Kanter has bounced back and forth between Boston and Portland during the last few seasons. He finished the 2018/19 campaign with the Trail Blazers, spent ’19/20 with the Celtics, rejoined the Blazers for ’20/21, and is now headed back to the C’s for the coming season.

Kanter is a reliable scorer and rebounder, who played in all 72 games for Portland in 2020/21 and averaged a double-double (11.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG) while logging just 24.4 minutes per game. He’s not a strong defender, but he’ll fill a hole in the Celtics’ frontcourt following the departure of veteran center Tristan Thompson, who is being traded to Sacramento.

It’s an interesting signing from an optics standpoint for the Celtics, who essentially salary-dumped Kanter a year ago when they sent his contract to Memphis along with the No. 30 pick in the draft (Desmond Bane) in exchange for two future second-rounders. A year later, new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is signing up for a reunion with the 29-year-old.

Jusuf Nurkic Ready To Return On Friday

The Trail Blazers made a splash on Thursday by agreeing to acquire Norman Powell from the Raptors. They’ll also add another key piece in-house, as center Jusuf Nurkic is ready to return from a lengthy absence. The big man tweets he’ll be in the lineup against the Magic on Friday.

Nurkic underwent surgery on January 19 to repair a fracture in his right wrist. He suffered his latest major injury against the Pacers while attempting to block a shot. He was cleared to play this week.

The 6’11” Nurkic missed nearly the entire 2019/20 season due to a major leg injury suffered late in the previous season. He’s averaging 9.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 12 games (23.3 MPG) this season. He enjoyed a career year, averaged 15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 3.2 APG, in 2018/19 before fracturing his left leg.

Nurkic has a partially guaranteed base salary of $12MM next season. He’s guaranteed $4MM and the Trail Blazers will have to decide whether to give him a full guarantee this summer.

Enes Kanter, who is averaging 12.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG, will return to a second-unit role with Nurkic back in action.

Jusuf Nurkic Undergoes Wrist Surgery

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a fracture in his right wrist, according to a team press release.

Nurkic will wear a splint for four weeks and be re-evaluated in six weeks. The timeline offered by the team suggests that the snakebit Portland big man will not return until March at the earliest.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Steven Shin at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

Nurkic suffered his latest major injury during the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game against the Pacers while attempting to block a shot.

He missed nearly the entire 2019/20 season due to a major leg injury suffered late in the previous season. Nurkic is averaging 9.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 12 games (23.3 MPG) this season. He enjoyed a career year, averaged 15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 3.2 APG, in 2018/19 before fracturing his left leg.

Nurkic has a partially guaranteed base salary of $12MM next season. The Trail Blazers will have to decide whether to give him a full guarantee this summer.

Enes Kanter started in his place on Monday against San Antonio with Harry Giles backing him up. The Trail Blazers have a spot open on the 15-man roster as well as a two-way slot to add another big man if they wish. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, they are $1.87MM below the luxury tax line (Twitter link).

Western Rumors: Howard, Lakers, Carmelo, Cousins, Kanter, More

Before he agreed to a deal with the Sixers on Friday night, Dwight Howard posted a message on his Twitter account indicating that he would be re-signing with the Lakers.

“I’m staying right where I belong,” Howard wrote. “Laker nation I love y’all. Purple and gold never gets old.”

A few minutes later, the tweet had been deleted, and a little later in the evening, Howard was set to join the 76ers. So what happened?

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, sources within the Lakers’ organization are adamant that they never put a formal offer on the table for Howard and that they discussed a “deal concept.” Howard, on the other hand, believe that if he agreed to the “deal concept,” the two sides had a deal.

As Haynes writes, Lakers management told Howard’s agent they had to consult with team ownership and get approval before making an official offer. The veteran center waited for almost an hour without hearing back, sources tell Haynes. Ultimately, the communication breakdown resulted in Howard preparing to head east for the 2020/21 season.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers haven’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing Carmelo Anthony, even after lining up deals to acquire Robert Covington and Derrick Jones, tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.
  • The Rockets touched base with DeMarcus Cousins‘ camp today, a source told Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko’s report came before the team reached a deal with Christian Wood, so it’s not clear whether or not signing Cousins remains an option for Houston.
  • Now that the Lakers aren’t an option for Tristan Thompson, the Clippers could emerge as a real possibility, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who notes (via Twitter) that it’d be a chance for Thompson to reunite with Tyronn Lue.
  • The Lakers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remain interested in getting a deal done, but will have to reach a compromise on salary, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Caldwell-Pope is seeking a raise, while the Lakers won’t have a ton of wiggle room below their hard cap.
  • The Celtics gave Enes Kanter a choice of being traded to either the Grizzlies or Trail Blazers in the deal that was completed earlier today, and Kanter chose Portland, a source tells Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Count the Timberwolves among the teams with interest in free agent big man Paul Millsap, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Trail Blazers Acquire Enes Kanter From Celtics

10:21pm: The trade is now official, according to press release from the Celtics and Grizzlies.

The deal will send Kanter to Portland, Hezonja and the rights to Bane to Memphis, and two future second-round picks to Boston. The Grizzlies will also send cash to Portland in the move.

One of the two second-rounders headed from Memphis to Boston is the Grizzlies’ own 2025 pick. The other will be the more favorable of the following:

  • Houston’s 2023 second-rounder.
  • The less favorable of Memphis’ and Dallas’ 2023 second-rounders.

2:46pm: The Trail Blazers are reuniting with veteran center Enes Kanter, having reached a deal to acquire him from the Celtics, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains, the deal will be folded into the draft-night agreement between the Celtics and Grizzlies that saw Memphis land the No. 30 pick and select TCU’s Desmond Bane. The Grizzlies will receive Mario Hezonja from Portland in the swap, while the Celtics will get a future draft consideration from Memphis.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Offseason Trades]

Kanter, 28, enjoyed a brief, productive stint in Portland to finish the 2018/19 season, averaging 11.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG in 16 playoff games that year as the team made it to the Western Conference Finals. The two sides were unable to come to an agreement in free agency a year ago, resulting in Kanter signing with the Celtics. A year later, he’s back with the Blazers.

The move will give Portland a veteran backup for starting center Jusuf Nurkic and is probably a strong signal that free agent big man Hassan Whiteside isn’t coming back.

The Celtics, meanwhile, having already traded away Vincent Poirier this week, have created a little extra cap and roster flexibility in advance of free agency, though they’ll need to add a frontcourt player or two to make up for losing a pair of centers.

Hezonja and Kanter both exercised player options for 2020/21 earlier this week, so they’re on expiring contracts. Hezonja will earn $1.98MM, while Kanter will make just over $5MM. The Grizzlies will take on Hezonja using one of their trade exceptions and Portland will do the same for Kanter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics’ Enes Kanter Picks Up 2020/21 Player Option

Celtics center Enes Kanter has picked up his player option for the 2020/21 season, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). The move locks in his $5MM salary for the coming year.

A report last month suggested that Kanter might surprise a lot of people by entering the free agent market. Given the current economic climate, as well as Kanter’s diminished role during the restart, he ultimately chose to keep the guaranteed money.

Kanter was part of the Celtics’ big man rotation most of the regular season, averaging 8.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 16.9 MPG. His defensive shortcomings and lack of a perimeter shot led coach Brad Stevens to lean on Daniel Theis in the postseason. Kanter, 28, made only 11 playoff appearances and averaged just 9.3 MPG in those outings.

Kanter doesn’t figure to get significant playing time next season but his expiring contract could come in handy at some point for Boston’s front office.

Atlantic Notes: Nowitzki, Kanter, Irving, Durant

New Nets coach Steve Nash reached out to former teammate Dirk Nowitzki but the Hall of Fame-bound big man has no desire to be an assistant coach at the moment, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. Nowitzki is content to spend time with his family in Dallas. “First of all, I don’t know if I could do it (coach) anywhere but here,” he said. “That’s of course first. Second, I just think the timing is not right. I love being with the family. I’m so over basketball at this point that it wasn’t even a thought for me.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s generally assumed that Celtics center Enes Kanter, who played sparingly during the postseason, will exercise his $5MM player option for next season. That’s not necessarily the case, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. It’s more likely that Kanter will test the market and seek a backup role elsewhere, Weiss says. Even if he opts in, the Celtics may use his salary for a draft-night trade, Weiss adds.
  • Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough doesn’t think Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were trying to undermine Nash when they talked about “collaborative coaching” on Durant’s podcast earlier this month, Ian Begley of SNY.tv relays. Speaking on The Putback, McDonough felt the star Nets duo was speaking more of the team’s leadership. “It wasn’t a critical comment toward Steve Nash like, ‘Hey, he’s not ready for this.’ It was more, ‘We have a lot of player leadership on the roster,’” he said.
  • The Knicks might shop all their picks on draft night. Get the details here.

Eastern Notes: Monk, Heat, Kanter, Dinwiddie

Hornets guard Malik Monk is seeking to regain the trust of his teammates after being suspended for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy in February, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Monk, who missed eight games due to the suspension and lost roughly $200K in salary, claims he’s in a better physical and emotional state now.

“I did it. I took my consequences for it,” Monk said of his suspension. “I think I’m making up for it right now. … I’m in a great place with my mind and my body. The responsibility now is even bigger for me to stay like this, instead of swerving off a little bit.”

Monk, the No. 11 pick of the 2017 draft, averaged 10.3 points and 2.1 assists in 21.3 minutes per game this season. He shot a career-high from the field (43.4%), though it was coupled with a career-low shooting mark from three-point territory (28.4%). Monk is entering the final year of his rookie contract, making him eligible for free agency in 2021.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat are utilizing veteran experience from Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala as they seek to reach their first NBA Finals since 2014, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. Haslem and Iguodala are the only Heat players to ever play in the Finals — both players are three-time NBA champions (Haslem with Miami in 2006, 2012, and 2013; Iguodala with Golden State in 2015, 2017 and 2018).
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Boston explores how Enes Kanter saved the Celtics’ season with his energetic play in the first half of Game 5. Kanter recorded eight points, four rebounds, and two assists in just over nine minutes, providing a spark to keep Boston within reach entering halftime. “[Kanter] kind of kept us at bay,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “We were struggling, they hit some really tough shots. [Duncan] Robinson was going nuts, and Kanter’s points in the paint, I thought, really helped. And kind of helped steady us and give us a chance at halftime, only being down 7.”
  • Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily examines whether the Nets’ offseason plans hinge on the fate of Spencer Dinwiddie, who could be traded in a package for a third star or kept as the lead ball-handler off the bench next season. Dinwiddie stepped up his play this season and has stated his willingness to surrender offensive opportunities for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, averaging a career-high 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game on the season.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 28, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019

It’s difficult to pump up your value when you’re glued to the bench. That’s the dilemma for Kanter, who has dropped out of the Celtics’ big man rotation. Kanter averaged 15 MPG in the opening round against Philadelphia but coach Brad Stevens has gone with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III during the second-round series against Toronto. Save for a four-minute cameo on Thursday, Kanter has been a spectator. He has a $5MM player option for next season and the benching might compel him to take the guaranteed money and force the front office’s hands.

Goran Dragic, Heat, 34, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2015

Perhaps we all forgot how good this guy can be. Dragic is getting a little long in the tooth and has battled injury issues, but he’s been fantastic on the Orlando campus. He’s been the most consistent offensive force for the surprising Heat, averaging 22.8 PPG and 5.0 APG against Indiana in the first-round sweep and 25.0 PPG and 4.5 APG in Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee. Dragic could provide a major jolt for any playoff-caliber club and his price tag keeps rising.

Ben McLemore, Rockets, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2019

McLemore got off to a strong start in Orlando, including back-to-back 20-point games during the seeding round. As the playoffs have moved along, McLemore has seen his playing time diminish. He received 10 or fewer minutes in the last three games against Oklahoma City, as Russell Westbrook’s return affected his role. McLemore’s $2.3MM for next season isn’t guaranteed. The contract is cheap enough for the Rockets to retain him, but if that happens, there’s no guarantee he’ll be a rotation player.

Evan Fournier, Magic, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016

Fournier has a $17.15MM option on his contract for next season. It seemed likely prior to the stoppage of play in March that he’d opt out and test a weak free agent market. His career year hit a snag during the restart, as he battled a non-COVID related illness and then was generally a non-factor in the first-round series against Milwaukee. He shot 35.7% from the field, compared to 44.9% shooting during the regular season. With all the uncertainty surrounding next season, Fournier has more incentive to take the guaranteed money.

Noah Vonleh, Nuggets, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019

A lottery pick in 2014, Vonleh has already played for six organizations. It looks like he’ll be adding a seventh to his resume next season, provided he can find another NBA home. Vonleh made three brief appearances in the seeding round but his only action during the playoffs was a three-minute stint during a 37-point loss to Utah. It’s easy to forget that Vonleh started 57 games for the Knicks last season. There won’t be any teams valuing him as a starter this offseason; he’ll be fortunate to get another veteran’s minimum deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.