Enes Kanter

Celtics Notes: Kemba, Kanter, Fall, Green

As the Celtics introduced offseason additions Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter at a press conference today, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters, including A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), that landing Walker and Kanter was his “Plan A” heading into the offseason.

While it’s hard to believe that a franchise so frequently linked to Anthony Davis would have considered Walker and Kanter its top priorities, Ainge’s comments make more sense if you assume he’s talking about Boston’s plan on June 30. By that point, the Lakers had already agreed to acquire Davis and the C’s had a good idea that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford wouldn’t be back.

In fact, Ainge said today that the Celtics started to get a sense as early as March or April that Irving may not be back in Boston for the 2019/20 season (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

“I was obviously thinking a move in a different direction at that point, thinking of the different options,” Ainge said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

We have much more on the Celtics today, so let’s dive in…

  • Kanter said today that a recruiting call from Walker (via Ainge’s phone) helped convince him to join the Celtics. Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here,” Kanter said, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics attempted to work out sign-and-trade deals with the Sixers and Nets for Horford and Irving, respectively, but both teams wanted more draft pick compensation than Boston was comfortable with, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Turning those free agent departures into sign-and-trades might have allowed Boston to retain more cap flexibility or pick up an extra asset or two.
  • Having agreed in June to sign Tacko Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract, the Celtics haven’t indicated yet that they intend to alter their plans for the rookie following his impressive Summer League performance. However, his showing in Las Vegas certainly caught the team’s eye. We want to take his development very seriously,” Ainge said of Fall (Twitter link via Himmelsbach). “He’s a high priority for us to develop.”
  • Another Summer League standout, Javonte Green, is drawing significant interest overseas, according to Himmelsbach, who tweets that it’s probably unrealistic to expect the wing to become an affiliate player for the Maine Red Claws.
  • After rescinding Daniel Theis‘ qualifying offer over the weekend, the Celtics still had a tiny bit of cap room to sign a rookie to a contract longer than two years, ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted (via Twitter). However, making their deals with Theis, Kanter, and Brad Wanamaker official today eliminated that cap room.

Celtics Sign Enes Kanter To Two-Year Deal

JULY 17: The Celtics have officially signed Kanter, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JULY 1: The Celtics have agreed to terms with free agent center Enes Kanter on a two-year deal with a second-year player option, his manager Hank Fetic announced today (via Twitter). According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (via Twitter), Kanter’s new contract will be worth nearly $10MM, so it projects to fit into Boston’s room exception.

Kanter, 27, has spent time with the Jazz, Thunder, Knicks, and Trail Blazers since entering the league as the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. Last season, he was bought out with the Knicks in February and signed in Portland for the rest of the season. In 67 total games, he averaged 13.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 24.5 minutes per contest.

Kanter boosted his stock down the stretch by taking over as the Blazers’ starting center after Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg. Kanter averaged 11.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG in 16 postseason contests. Portland agreed to acquire Hassan Whiteside in a trade with Miami earlier today, signaling that the club didn’t expect to bring back Kanter.

Having agree to acquire Kemba Walker using their cap room, the Celtics had been on the lookout for a big man with their $4.8MM room exception. They were linked to Kanter and Kevon Looney on Saturday, though Looney’s agent tells Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) that he didn’t hear from the C’s.

While Kanter will help improve the Celtics’ interior scoring and rebounding numbers, he’s not considered an elite defender, so the team will have some work to do in its frontcourt to make up for the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: P. Gasol, Mavs, Wolves, Wright, More

Pau Gasol, whose contract with the Bucks is up, continues to recover from a procedure on his left foot, but he wants to continue his NBA career next season, he tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

“My recovery from surgery has been smooth and I expect to be fully cleared for basketball activities in early August,” Gasol said. “I cannot wait to start training again.”

Gasol, who is an unrestricted free agent, is the only one of Milwaukee’s free agents who has yet to reach an agreement this week. There has been no indication that the Bucks are seeking a reunion.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors:

  • The Mavericks are among the teams that have expressed “strong interest” in Delon Wright, league sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Darren Wolfson of SKOR North tweets that the Timberwolves have also inquired on Wright. Wright is a restricted free agent, so the Grizzlies would have the chance to match an offer sheet.
  • The Timberwolves continue to kick the tires on free agent point guard T.J. McConnell, according to Wolfson, who tweets that the Sixers, Heat, Lakers, Grizzlies, Suns, Wizards, and Pacers have also checked out McConnell. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter) notes that McConnell could be a target for Miami if the team trades Goran Dragic.
  • The Thunder are among the teams that have expressed some interest in veteran guard Jodie Meeks, a league source tells Brett Dawson of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dawson’s report came shortly before Oklahoma City agreed to terms with Alec Burks, so it’s not clear if the club remains interested in Meeks.
  • In a text message to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link), Enes Kanter explains that he considered re-signing with the Trail Blazers, but didn’t feel as if they gave him enough time to make his decision. Kanter agreed to a two-year deal with Boston.

Free Agent Rumors: Middleton, Butler, Kanter, Temple

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the quietness surrounding the free agency destination of Bucks’ All-Star forward Khris Middleton is because interested front offices are universally presuming that Middleton is going back to Milwaukee on a “monster” five-year deal.

Middleton, 27, is eligible to sign a five-year, $189.904MM maximum-salary contract with the Bucks, while rival suitors can only (relatively speaking, of course) offer up to $140.791MM over four years.

Echoing Stein’s sentiment from rival front offices, Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box reports that Middleton is expected to re-sign with Milwaukee, adding that Brook Lopez and George Hill are also considered good bets to return.

Free Agency Notes: Mirotic, Kanter, Knicks

Nikola Mirotic helped kick off free agency weekend by opting to play in Barcelona next season. It’s a surprising development considering he was a coveted free agent.

The Jazz had their eye on Mirotic and had “major interest” in trying to sign him to a three-year deal in the $45MM range, Marc Stein of The New York Times hears (Twitter link). The market for stretch fours is even thinner now after Mirotic’s decision.

Let’s take a look at more free agency notes from around the league:

  • The Clippers have interest in Enes Kanter, Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard reports (Twitter link). Broussard also confirms that the Celtics and Lakers are eyeing the center, as was previously reported.
  • There’s been no indication that the Celtics are still pursuing Clint Capela, whether it be a Rockets‘ sign-and-trade involving Jimmy Butler or any scenario, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. Capela had previously been linked to Boston.
  • The Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Isaiah Hicks, Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets. Hicks was on a two-way contract last season.
  • New York has interest in George Hill and Wayne Ellington, Begley relays in a full-length piece. Both veterans will be targets regardless of whether the Knicks land any stars in free agency.

Charania’s Latest: Nets, D-Lo, Durant, Livingston, More

Kyrie Irving remains “fully focused” on a potential deal with the Nets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who says Brooklyn’s goal is to sign the trio of Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. If they can get Irving but Durant heads elsewhere, the Nets could shift their focus to players like Tobias Harris or Julius Randle, Charania writes.

As for D’Angelo Russell, league sources tell Charania that the expectation is the Nets will either renounce D-Lo’s rights or try to complete a sign-and-trade deal that sends him elsewhere. A sign-and-trade would be complicated, since Brooklyn may prefer to use its cap room on free agents rather than trade pieces in return for Russell.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers is tentatively scheduled to travel to New York this weekend to meet with Kevin Durant and his inner circle, league sources tell Charania. Durant is also expected to talk to the Knicks, Nets, and Clippers, though no formal meetings have been set, says Charania, who adds that there’s a belief that KD has considered the possibility of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard.
  • Shaun Livingston, who originally had a guarantee date of June 30 on his contract, has agreed to push that date back to July 10, reports Charania. Livingston has a partial guarantee of $2MM on his $7.7MM salary, and the Warriors now have more time to decide whether to retain him at that price.
  • With Kemba Walker appearing likely to sign elsewhere, the Hornets are focusing on other point guards like Terry Rozier, sources tell Charania. It’s not clear if Charlotte believes the mid-level would be enough to land Rozier, or if the team would attempt a sign-and-trade.
  • The Sixers remain “fully focused” on trying to re-sign Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, according to Charania, who notes that rival teams interested in Butler believe the fifth year Philadelphia can offer will be a major factor for the swingman and agent Bernie Lee. If the 76ers don’t offer that fifth year, it’s possible the market for Butler will open up.
  • The Knicks have targeted free agent center Robin Lopez as a potential backup for Mitchell Robinson, league sources tell Charania.
  • The Celtics intend to pursue a big man using their $4.8MM room exception, with Enes Kanter and Kevon Looney among their targets, per Charania.

Free Agent Rumors: Kanter, Favors, Horford, Wolves

The Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Celtics are expected to be among the teams to show interest in Enes Kanter when free agency opens, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Portland doesn’t have Bird rights on Kanter, and Boston and L.A. may end up using most or all of their cap room on impact players, so it’s possible that none of those three teams will have the resources to make a strong bid for Kanter. We’ll see if the taxpayer mid-level exception (Trail Blazers) or room exception (Lakers, Celtics) is enough to sign him.

Here are more free agent rumors from around the NBA:

  • Jazz big man Derrick Favors remains under contract in Utah, but because his situation remains in flux due to his non-guaranteed contract, he’ll be permitted to take calls from interested teams during the free agent period, agent Wallace Prather tells Shams Charania of The Athletic. If the Jazz decide not to guarantee Favors’ $17.65MM salary for 2019/20, he’d be waived by July 6 and could join a new club.
  • Reporters around the NBA are still trying to pin down the mystery team that appears to be on track to sign Al Horford to a lucrative four-year contract. Marc Stein of The New York Times thought it might be the Pelicans, but says he has been “strongly advised” that that’s not the case (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) doesn’t believe the Mavericks are seriously in the mix for Horford, despite reports that suggested otherwise.
  • According to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (by way of Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), the Timberwolves reached out to the Nets to see whether Brooklyn might be interested in Andrew Wiggins in a potential sign-and-trade for RFA-to-be D’Angelo Russell. Predictably, the Nets had no interest in taking on Wiggins’ contract, per Wolfson.
  • The Kings haven’t closed the door on a reunion with Kosta Koufos, who will be an unrestricted free agent this Sunday, and the veteran center feels the same way, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Both sides figure to let the market dictate their next moves, Ham adds.

Trail Blazers Notes: Kanter, Aminu, Workout, Durant

Enes Kanter received a hero’s welcome Saturday as he returned to Oklahoma City for his annual youth basketball camp, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The former Thunder center remains popular with local fans, many of whom encouraged him to return to OKC in free agency. While Kanter might be too pricey for the Thunder to consider, he can count on receiving a lot of offers after rebuilding his stock in Portland following his release by the Knicks.

The Trail Blazers were aggressive in recruiting Kanter, who also received interest from the Thunder and Lakers. Repeated calls and texts from coach Terry Stotts, GM Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard were enough to tip the scales in Portland’s favor, which became fortunate when starting center Jusuf Nurkic was lost for the season with a broken leg.

“I’m glad that Portland happened,” Kanter said. “I love Portland, I love the people there, I love the fans there. I just want to go – and Portland counts, too – somewhere I can win games. I’m going into my ninth year. I just want to go somewhere where I have a good situation, have some playing time and just win.”

There’s more Trail Blazers news to pass along:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu‘s agent is open to negotiating an extension with Portland before his client hits free agency, but the Blazers may not be able to afford a substantial raise, relays Jason Quick of The Athletic. “He wants to be there,” Raymond Brothers said. “He’s still committed to the Blazers. He likes the city, the team, the coach, he likes Neil. He’s happy. He just wants to win.” Any extension would be limited to $48MM over four years. Aminu made $6.96MM this season.
  • The Trail Blazers brought in six players Friday for their first pre-draft workout, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. The session featured Wake Forest’s Jaylen Hoard, Memphis’ Jeremiah Martin, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds and Shaw University’s Amir Hinton. Portland enters the draft with just one pick, its first-rounder at No. 25.
  • Lillard is asking an Oakland-based rapper to help convince Kevin Durant to come to Portland, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Mistah F.A.B. joined Lillard on Instagram Live following Game 1 of the NBA Finals and asked him which free agent the Blazers should pursue. “Just go in there and tell KD, say ‘KD, just go to Portland, bruh. I’m a Portland fan,'” Lillard responded. “You a Portland fan now, so just be like, ‘Bruh they left Oakland anyways, so just go to Portland.'”

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Conference Finals

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 conference finals:

Patrick McCaw, Raptors, 23, SG (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $786K deal in 2019
McCaw’s season has been a head-scratcher. He leveraged his way out of Golden State, signed a non-guaranteed offer sheet with Cleveland, got cut loose shortly thereafter and then signed a minimum contract with Toronto. He may get his wish to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but no one will be knocking down his door on July 1. He suffered a thumb injury late in the regular season, was ineffective in some postseason appearances, and has missed the last couple of games for “personal reasons.” McCaw might not even find a guaranteed offer this summer.

George Hill, Bucks, 33, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $57MM deal in 2017
Hill’s $18MM salary becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster July 1. The Bucks have too many free agent concerns to bring him back at that number, but Hill has reinforced that he’s a solid rotation player after a disappointing regular season. Hill averaged 14.2 PPG in the conference semis against Boston. Throwing out his Game 1 clunker against Toronto and he’s averaged 13.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 2.0 APG over the past four games, hitting some clutch baskets along the way. He’ll attract attention on the open market, though he’ll have to settle for less than his previous deal.

Alfonzo McKinnie, Warriors, 26, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.7MM deal in 2018
Seems like every role player that coach Steve Kerr has thrown out there in the postseason has provided some quality minutes. McKinnie certainly fits that description. He was getting here-and-there minutes, then became more valuable with Kevin Durant sidelined. He grabbed nine rebounds in 21 minutes in Game 3 against Portland, then contributed 12 points in the clinching overtime victory in Game 4. McKinnie has a non-guaranteed salary next year but it’s difficult to see him getting cut loose considering the Warriors need to surround their stars with low-cost options. He can be a restricted free agent in 2020 if he receives a qualifying offer.

Enes Kanter, Trail Blazers, 27, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $653K deal in 2019
Kanter rode the roller coaster during the playoffs. The Blazers would have never made it to the Western Conference finals without him in the wake of Jusuf Nurkic‘s injury. Following Game 1 against the Warriors though, Kanter saw limited minutes as coach Terry Stotts opted to ride stretch four Meyers Leonard. Kanter’s ability to put up numbers earned him a big contract with the Thunder — recall he was making $18.6MM this season before working out a buyout with the Knicks. But his defensive deficiencies are also apparent in today’s NBA. It will interesting to see how much executives value his positives on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.