Enes Kanter

Bulls Notes: Lopez, Boylen, Portis

Robin Lopez‘s shaky status with the Bulls led to some tense moments during practice on Monday, according to a series of Chicago Sun-Times tweets. Lopez was told prior to practice that his minutes might be reduced and he showed his irritation on the court, exchanging words with guard Kris Dunn, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Coach Jim Boylen removed him from practice for approximately 10 minutes because Boylen felt he was getting too chippy. No punches were thrown, but the incident displayed how frustrated the veteran center feels about being in limbo. He and his expiring $14.36MM contract are on the trading block but the market for him is currently quiet after a potential deal fell through last week.

Chicago is hoping to get at least a second-round pick for Lopez without having to take back anything but another expiring contract to match up the salaries, Andrews adds. The Bulls have so far resisted buying out Lopez in the hopes that a trade can be worked out before the deadline.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • The re-negotiation of Boylen’s contract was mainly a show of support by management rather than a firm commitment, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune explains. Boylen had his salary doubled from what he was making as an assistant to $1.6MM. He also received a $1MM guarantee for his $1.6MM salary next season. That still might make him the lowest-paid coach in the league and doesn’t preclude him from getting fired if management has an unexpected change of heart, Johnson continues. It does show that the brass recognizes Boylen is trying to implement his philosophy without the benefit of a training camp or hiring his own staff, Johnson adds.
  • Forward Bobby Portis felt Kevin Durant intentionally injured him on Friday, Chelsea Howard of the Sporting News relays. Portis sprained his elbow when he got tangled up with the Warriors superstar. “If I would have done that, I would have got a foul call on me, defensive foul,” Portis said. “I guess it’s just who you’re playing against. Everything is officiated different toward whoever it is, but if you look back at the video at the time, it was obvious.”
  • The Knicks have considered moving disgruntled center Enes Kanter in a deal for Bulls forward Jabari Parker. Get the details here.

Knicks Have Explored Kanter, Parker Trade Scenario

As the Knicks attempt to find a new home for Enes Kanter, one scenario recently discussed by the team would see New York acquire Bulls forward Jabari Parker, reports Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Both Kanter ($18.6MM) and Parker ($20MM) are on pricey expiring contracts, and the Knicks were previously cited as one of the teams that expressed interest in the former No. 2 overall pick. However, Chicago is unlikely to have any interest in Kanter, since the team is headed for the lottery and wants youngsters like Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkanen, and Bobby Portis to handle the brunt of the frontcourt minutes.

Bondy acknowledges as much, writing that finding a third team to take Kanter represented a “snag in the framework” of a deal involving Kanter and Parker. It’s unclear if discussions ever really got off the ground and advanced beyond the preliminary stages, Bondy adds.

Like the Bulls, the Knicks are currently focused on player development rather than playoff contention, and Kanter has made it clear he’s not on board with that approach, so the team has been on the lookout for potential trades.

The Knicks reportedly talked to the Kings about a possible swap involving Kanter and Zach Randolph, who has an $11MM+ expiring contract. Bondy suggests that Sacramento would like to add Kosta Koufos – another veteran on an expiring contract – to that hypothetical deal, but says the Knicks would require a sweetener (ie. a second-round pick) to make it work.

It’s not clear how much interest the Knicks really have in Parker, but if they like him as a player and view him as a better long-term fit than Kanter, acquiring him in a trade would give them some options in the offseason. His $20MM team option will certainly be declined, but whichever team has him at the end of the season would hold his Non-Bird rights and could offer him a starting salary ranging from anywhere between the minimum and $24MM.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Randolph, Fizdale, Thomas

A reported Enes Kanter for Zach Randolph swap with the Kings would fulfill the Knicks‘ desire to move the veteran center without taking back a contract that runs past this season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The trade makes sense on several levels, Berman notes. Kanter is unhappy with his reduced playing time in New York and should welcome a deal to a contender. Knicks GM Scott Perry formerly worked in Sacramento and signed Randolph to his current deal. Randolph, who hasn’t played all season, might be bought out to free up a roster spot or he could return to action under David Fizdale, his former coach in Memphis.

Berman adds that the Knicks were surprised by Kanter’s comments last week about his ongoing feud with Turkish leaders as an explanation for his decision not to accompany the team on its upcoming trip to London. A team official said Kanter was having visa issues, but he later denied that was the reason for staying home.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Team owner James Dolan supports Kanter’s decision to skip the London trip, Berman adds in the same piece. The Kings and Knicks aren’t close to a deal yet, a source tells Berman, with Sacramento appearing to be more reluctant.
  • The Knicks finished the first half of the season with just 10 victories, but Fizdale remains confident that better things are coming, Berman writes in a separate story“Individually, I think guys are getting better,’’ Fizdale said after last night’s loss at Golden State. “Small areas of the game we’re getting better. It’s not all collective and not showing in a full game. I do see great strides in our young guys. I see Emmanuel [Mudiay] constantly gaining confidence, and [Noah] Vonleh continues to grow in his evolution. Kevin Knox over the course of the first half has shown great strides. Him and Damyean Dotson.” Draft lottery concerns may work against Fizdale’s prediction of more wins in the second half. The league’s three worst teams will share the best odds at the No. 1 pick, and the Knicks rank third in our latest Reverse Standings.
  • Lance Thomas has signed with CAA and agents Leon Rose and Rich Felder, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. His $7.58MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Knicks, Kings Discussing Enes Kanter, Zach Randolph

The Knicks and Kings are discussing a potential trade that would see the teams swap the expiring contracts of Enes Kanter and Zach Randolph, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

However, according to Wojnarowski, nothing is close yet, as Sacramento would prefer to send out more expiring money in any such trade. Getting a third team involved could help pave the way to a deal, Woj adds.

Kanter, 26, has had an inconsistent role for the Knicks this season as the team focuses on developing young bigs like Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. Kanter has spoken repeatedly about how much he likes playing in New York and hasn’t requested a trade, but he may welcome the opportunity to get more regular playing time for a team in the playoff hunt as he approaches unrestricted free agency.

[RELATED: Enes Kanter met with Knicks’ GM to discuss role]

The Kings fit that bill, remaining in the race for a postseason berth despite a recent slump. The 20-21 squad is currently tied with Utah and Minnesota, two games back of the Lakers for the No. 8 seed. Sacramento also has approximately $11MM in cap room, which means the club could comfortably take on Kanter’s $18.6MM salary in exchange for Randolph’s $11.7MM contract without having to worry about salary matching.

That may not be the best use of the Kings’ cap space though — that space figures to be a valuable asset at next month’s trade deadline, since every other NBA team is over the cap. It’s also not clear why the Knicks would be incentivized to make a Kanter/Randolph swap, besides some modest financial savings in 2018/19, but perhaps the club is simply ready to move on from its veteran center.

In 41 games (26.5 MPG) this season, Kanter has been his usual productive self, posting 14.4 PPG and 11.0 RPG. While he can score and is an excellent rebounder, the former third overall pick isn’t a strong defender or rim protector, which will limit his value on the trade market.

As for Randolph, the 37-year-old hasn’t appeared in a single game for the Kings so far in the final season of his two-year contract with the club. At this point, he’s a trade candidate simply for his expiring deal, and would certainly emerge as a buyout candidate if he’s not moved by February 7.

The Kings also have veterans like Kosta Koufos ($8.7MM) and Ben McLemore ($5.5MM) on expiring contracts and could look to make the most of those deals in trades in the coming weeks. Iman Shumpert ($11MM) is in the final year of his contract too, but has emerged as a reliable on-court contributor and off-court leader for Sacramento, reducing the odds that he’d be used as a trade chip.

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Ntilikina, Knox

Enes Kanter has been promised a place in the Knicks‘ rotation, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Coach David Fizdale assured Kanter he’ll be in games and suggested the team will use two-center alignments in the future.

“I want to pull off combinations like that because I want to give them all a taste out there,” Fizdale said of playing two centers at the same time.

Fizdale replaced the Turkish big man with Luke Kornet after the team’s Christmas day loss to the Bucks. Mitchell Robinson has been out with an ankle injury that predated the lineup change, leaving Kanter to see minutes off the bench over the last four contests. Robinson isn’t quite ready to see the court, though the rookie won’t take all of Kanter’s minutes once he returns.

Kanter won’t play in the team’s January 17 tilt against the Wizards in London. Kanter, who has been outspoken about the Turkish Government, said he wouldn’t travel with the team because of safety concerns. “I could get killed pretty easy,” he previously said, alluding to his feud with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the possibility of a Turkish presence in London.

The Knicks then attempted to clarify the center’s response by announcing that Kanter would not make the trip because of visa issues. However, Kanter refuted the claim today, posting a photo of his travel document on his Twitter feed.

New York could trade Kanter, in addition to some of their other veterans, before the trade deadline, as the franchise is fully committed to a youth movement.  As we wait to see what moves the 10-29 Knicks make, let’s take a look at some more notes from the Big Apple:

  • The Knicks‘ team doctors have changed their diagnosis on Frank Ntilikina‘s ankle from a strained left tendon to sprained ligaments, which is an upgrade in terms of predicted recovery time, Berman passes along in the same piece. The team doesn’t expect Ntilikina to miss as much time as Robinson has. “With the Mitchell thing, we’re being overly cautious because he’s had multiple [sprains],” Fizdale said. “It’s different with Frank, and these kids heal differently. I don’t see Frank being out too long.”
  • Kevin Knox is only 19 years old and the 6’9″ rookie says he isn’t done growing yet, Berman passes along in a separate piece. “Doctors said I have a half-inch or an inch left in the tank,” Knox said. “You never know — hopefully, I have an inch [left]. Maybe 6-10, 6-10½. If not, I’m perfectly fine with where I’m at.”
  • While tanking may be the best path for the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. is not a fan of the strategy and the losses are wearing him down, Berman adds in a separate piece. “It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow. You definitely want to try to win as many games as possible.”

Atlantic Notes: Carroll, Brown, Rozier, Hezonja

The Nets have been surging in recent weeks, and the team’s hot streak has coincided with strong play from DeMarre Carroll, who is finally gaining comfort after returning from ankle surgery on November 9. As Brian Lewis writes for The New York Post, Carroll has been providing stellar and consistent play off the bench, averaging nearly 17 points and 6 rebounds per game in his last five contests, while knocking down 50% of his 3-pointers.

Carroll’s turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Nets, who are missing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert due to injuries.

Coming into the season, Carroll was expected to play a key role for the Nets as a small-ball power forward. Due to his injury and early struggles this season, he lost that role and has had to work to regain it. Now he is a key cog on the Nets’ bench unit, which is one of the best in the league.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

  • After getting off to a rough start this season, Jaylen Brown has stepped up his play in recent games for the CelticsAs Sherrod Blakely points out for NBC Sports Boston, Brown has finally started to hit shots in recent games and has resembled the player he was last season on a more consistent basis.
  • Speaking of struggling Celtics, Terry Rozier continues to navigate his smaller role now that the team is healthy. As Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald points out, Rozier is struggling with accepting the smaller role for the good of the team versus constricting his career to being a backup point guard.
  • In their recent win over the Lakers, the Knicks received strong contributions from Mario Hezonja. However, as Marc Berman writes for The New York Post, Hezonja and Enes Kanter are two parts of the Knicks’ rotation that have seen their roles decrease significantly in recent weeks as their future with the team is in question.

Veterans Available For Trades As Knicks Emphasize Youth

The Knicks are fully committing to a youth movement, which means a smaller role in the future for Enes Kanter, Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Lance Thomas, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

Kanter has been the most outspoken about his loss of playing time since being pulled from the starting lineup in December. He met with GM Scott Perry this week to express his frustration over the move, but didn’t ask for to be traded. Sources tell Vorkunov the Knicks have received calls from several teams that are interested in Kanter, but no deal appears imminent. He adds that there has been no discussion of a possible buyout of the remainder of Kanter’s $18.6MM contract.

“I don’t want no free money,” Kanter said. “This organization pays me money to go out there and play as hard as I can and just fight every possession. I don’t want any free money. When I’m out there, I’m going to give my everything. I’m going to give 100 percent every second.”

Kanter, who opted in to the final year of his contract last summer, is among seven Knicks who will definitely be free agents this summer. New York also has a team option on Allonzo Trier, while Thomas and Damyean Dotson have non-guaranteed deals for 2019/20.

The organization is using this season to develop the players it knows will be part of its future, such as rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. That has marginalized some veterans, including Lee, who missed nearly the first two months of the season with a neck injury and has averaged a career-low 14.9 minutes per game since returning. With another year left on his contract at $12.76MM, Lee has been the subject of trade rumors for months.

“I’ve been in the league,” he said. “I’ve seen every situation. I’ve seen how people handle it. You gotta just stay professional, make sure you stay in shape, stay sharp and ready to play. Everything will work out for the better. If you complain and pout and stuff, that’s when all the other stuff doesn’t work out for the better. But stay positive; that’s all I can do.”

It has been a delicate balancing act for first-year coach David Fizdale as he tries to build up his younger players without alienating the veterans. No one has seen his role change more than Burke, who began the year as the starter at point guard, then was moved to a reserve role and has sometimes been out of the rotation. One of the team’s impending free agents, Burke had hardly played since returning from a sprained knee last month, but he got another opportunity when Frank Ntilikina left Friday’s game with an ankle injury.

“I don’t believe anything is permanent in this league,” Burke said. “When you’re young, you don’t really understand that. Things in this league can be very temporary. You go from one game not playing to the next game playing 30 minutes. You gotta be prepared for that change.”

Enes Kanter To Skip London Trip Due To Feud With Turkish President

Due to a longstanding feud with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Enes Kanter will not travel with the Knicks to London when the team faces the Wizards later this month, he told reporters on Friday (Twitter link).

Following a 16-point, 15-rebound performance in a win over the Lakers in Los Angeles, Kanter said he feared for his life if he left the country for the Knicks’ Jan. 17 tilt in London.

“I talk to the front office and decided I’m not going,’’ Kanter said, per the New York Post. “The freaking lunatic, there’s a chance I can get killed out there. I talked to the front office. I’m not going. I’m going to stay here and practice. It’s pretty sad. All this stuff affects my career in basketball. I want to help my team win, but because of one lunatic guy I can’t even go there to do my job.

“Oh yeah, they got a lot of spies there. I could get killed very easy. It would be a very ugly situation.”

After Kanter criticized Erdogan in June 2016 on Twitter, his passport was canceled by the Turkish Embassy in May 2017. The 26-year-old was detained in Romania and an arrest warrant was issued by the Turkish government, but he was able to return to the United States.

Kanter said he will practice while the team is overseas in London. The big man was recently demoted to the bench in favor of rookies Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. He subsequently met with Knicks’ general manager Scott Perry to discuss his role but reportedly did not request a trade. It’s possible the Knicks, who sport a 10-29 record, deal Kanter ahead of the Feb.7 trade deadline.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Graham, Knicks, Crabbe

The Sixers don’t have long-term concerns about signing Jimmy Butler to a possible five-year contract, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Butler is set to turn 30 in September, currently playing in his eighth NBA season.

“No concern, because of the way he takes care of his body,” Sixers GM Elton Brand said, according to Pompey. “But, of course, there’s other things that would have to happen before you discuss those kind of things… like he has to opt out of his contract. So I don’t want to talk about that yet.”

For most NBA players, production levels begin to decrease as they turn the corner and reach age 30. There have been some outliers in this case during recent years, such as four-time MVP LeBron James, but teams usually give added thought before offering lucrative, long-term deals to players who are on the wrong side of 30.

Butler, who was acquired by the Sixers in a trade last November, is holding per-game averages of 18 points, 4.7 rebounds and one steal with the team this season. He can turn down a $19.8MM player option for the 2019/20 season to enter free agency this summer and seek a new deal.

The Sixers’ offer to Butler could be a five-year, $190MM maximum contract, which would help solidify the team’s “Big 3” of Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for several seasons to come.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Nets swingman Treveon Graham will be available to play in the team’s game against the Grizzlies on Friday, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). Graham last played for the Nets on Oct. 19, taking the last 11 weeks to rehab from a hamstring injury. He signed a contract to join the team this past summer in free agency.
  • Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee aren’t the only players who have seen their roles diminish on the Knicks in recent weeks, Marc Berman writes for The Post. Mario Hezonja, Trey Burke and Lance Thomas have also been given reduced time, with all five players becoming trade candidates for the Feb. 7 deadline, according to Berman. Knicks coach David Fizdale has prioritized playing younger talent this season, making the futures of some veterans uncertain.
  • Nets guard Allen Crabbe is set to miss more time than expected with his knee injury, Lewis writes in a different story for The Post. Crabbe last played on Dec. 12 due to general soreness and will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks, with surgery an unlikely option. “No, we haven’t gotten to that point yet,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I haven’t gotten to that point. It will be a re-evaluation in a week to 10 days and then go from there.”

Enes Kanter Met With Knicks GM To Discuss Role

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.