Enes Kanter

Eastern Notes: Korver, LaVine, Celtics, Kanter

The Sixers, Thunder or Lakers are the most likely landing spots for veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Jordan Greer of the Sporting News opines. Korver is likely to get traded or bought out by a Cavaliers team that suddenly finds itself in a rebuilding mode. The combination of Korver and J.J. Redick could drive opposing defenses crazy in Philadelphia, while Oklahoma City desperately needs a 3-point shooter. LeBron James and Korver have good chemistry, as displayed by James’ 89 assists to Korver last season, Greer adds.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bulls matched the Kings’ four-year, $78MM offer sheet for Zach LaVine and thus far it’s looking like a wise decision. As Sam Smith of the Bulls’ website notes, LaVine is shooting a career high 46.8% and averaging 26.6 PPG. He’s second in the Eastern Conference in usage rate to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and his efficiency rating still is top 10 in the conference, Smith adds.
  • Interior scoring might be the Celtics’ biggest weakness, Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com points out. It entered Monday’s game at Denver ranked last in points in the paint with an average of just 35.3 per game. Coach Brad Stevens admits the lack of inside scoring is a carryover from the last two seasons. “Last year we were not very good either,” he said. “That’s been an issue for us for the last 18 months. Prior to that we were pretty good at it. So we’ve just got to keep hammering on it, see if we can get a little better.”
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale knows Enes Kanter isn’t happy coming off the bench but Fizdale believes he could be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, as he told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and other media members. Kanter, a free agent after the season, is playing behind rookie Mitchell Robinson. “I just want him to keep settling into that role right now,” Fizdale said. “Quite honestly, if we keep going this rout, he’s a guy that with the numbers he’s going to get … he’s going to have his hat in that Sixth Man of the Year Award.”

Knicks Notes: Kanter, Knox, Trier, Kornet

Knicks center Enes Kanter hasn’t had much to say since being demoted to the second team, but he expressed his feelings about the move on social media last night, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Kanter’s tweet was just a period symbol, which is evidently his way of expressing his speechlessness over losing his starting job to second-round pick Mitchell Robinson.

Kanter had 18 points and 14 rebounds in about 24 minutes off the bench Sunday against the Wizards, but was still replaced by Robinson with 5:36 left to play and the Knicks down six points. Washington pulled away as the rookie committed multiple fouls and drew a technical.

New coach David Fizdale has said the team is not “chasing wins” and will prioritize player development over its record. Kanter had been a locker room leader, but Berman notes that he has become more detached since the lineup change. He suggests it may be an ongoing “soap opera” as long as Robinson remains the starter.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Fizdale promised a five-game run for his current starting lineup and doesn’t plan any changes now that the trial period is up, Berman adds in the same piece. Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Damyean Dotson and Noah Vonleh have joined Robinson as starters, and Fizdale likes the energy that group brings. Rookie Allonzo Trier has been helping to close out games because of his ability to create his own shots.
  • Kevin Knox, who is expected to eventually join that starting unit, is listed as a “game-time decision” tonight against the Bulls, Berman relays in a separate story. Knox has missed seven games with a sprained left ankle and Fizdale would like to see him in a five-on-five scrimmage before he returns to the lineup. Knox went through a three-on-three session with contact on Saturday. “My 19-year-old pro right now,” Fizdale said. “We’ll see how it goes. I told you I wanted him to play five-on-five. I know he feels great. At the same time, we have to make sure with that deal.”
  • The decision to assign Luke Kornet to the G League today could lead to an eventual roster move, Berman tweets. There’s speculation that Trier, a two-way player, will have his contract converted to a standard NBA deal when his 45 days are used up in December, while Kornet will be waived and re-signed to a two-way contract.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Knox, Vonleh, Carmelo

Coach David Fizdale is committed to making rookie Mitchell Robinson his starting center, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Robinson has replaced Enes Kanter, who will enter the free agent market next summer, because Fizdale feels the second-round pick is a “superior natural defender” and he wants the whole team to have a defensive mindset. “He’s going to be our foundation, our anchor of our defense for the future,” Fizdale said. “Let’s get this guy going right now and really commit to the development of these guys and to what it’s going to take to get them to where they need to be for us to be the team we’re going to be later.”  By making an early commitment to a youth movement, Knicks appear to have gone into tanking mode early, sacrificing wins this season to improve their draft position.

We have more from the Knicks:

  • First-round pick Kevin Knox will likely return on Monday from a left ankle sprain, Berman writes in a separate story. Knox has only played three games and with Fizdale cancelling practice on Thursday, he won’t play against the Mavericks on Friday, according to Berman. Even if Knox practices on Saturday, he’ll likely be held out of playing Sunday against Washington because the team doesn’t want him playing back-to-backs right away, so he’ll return against Chicago on Monday.
  • Noah Vonleh has emerged as Kristaps Porzingis‘ fill-in as the starting power forward, Berman notes in another piece. Vonleh signed a partially guaranteed $1.6MM contract that doesn’t fully guaranteed until January 10th but he’s jumped ahead of Mario Hezonja, who signed a one-year, $6.5MM contract in the offseason, in the pecking order. Vonleh only has a cap hold of $1.62MM but he doesn’t want to look too far ahead. “I definitely want to be here in New York, but that’s up in the air,” he told Berman. “I have to focus on this season and go from there.”
  • Carmelo Anthony believes the franchise’s reputation scared away top-shelf free agents during his time with the team, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“The perception of the organization. I think it probably scared a lot of people away,” he said. “Scared some people away. Not knowing the nuances and the ins and outs of kind of what was going on, who is in charge, who is not. So it was more than just basketball when it came to people making those decisions.”

Atlantic Rumors: Korkmaz, Kanter, Marks, Wallace

The Sixers are still mulling whether to pick up swingman Furkan Korkmaz‘s option for next season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Philadelphia has a Wednesday deadline to make a decision. His option for the 2019/20 season is slightly over $2MM. If the Sixers decline, Korkmaz will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. The 6’7” Korkmaz has made four brief appearances this season after seeing action in 14 games last season.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Enes Kanter isn’t thrilled about being demoted to the second unit, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports. Kanter came off the bench against Golden State on Friday even though he’s the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder.  Coach David Fizdale is determined to develop his younger players.  “We all understand where our team is at and what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Fizdale said. “One way or another we do have to bring our puppies along.” Kanter’s $18,622,514 salary comes off the books at the end of the season and the Knicks are expected to pursue higher-level free agents.
  • Warriors GM Bob Myers believes Nets GM Sean Marks has a blueprint for future success, as he told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Brooklyn has hoarded cap space to be a major player on the free agent market next summer. “I think they’re on their way,” Myers said. “They play in a great city, and Sean is smart. They’re in a position now with their picks and cap space where they’ll be able to make some change, and it’ll probably be positive.”
  • Rasheed Wallace, who won a championship with Detroit in 2004, was invited to Knicks practice on Sunday to instruct the big men, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports. Wallace, who was invited by GM Scott Perry, gave rookie Mitchell Robinson plenty of food for thought. “He pushed me to talk more on defense. I have a tendency to be a little quiet. And him, he brings it,” Robinson told Bondy. Fizdale plans to invite another ex-Piston, Chauncey Billups, to deliver tips to his young guards.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Dudley, LeVert

Frank Ntilikina scored a career-high 17 points Friday in his first NBA start at point guard, leaving the Knicks with some decisions to make, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New coach David Fizdale adjusted his lineup, replacing Trey Burke with Ntilikina and starting rookie Mitchell Robinson along with Noah Vonleh up front and Damyean Dotson at the wing.

“He ran the show, picked his spots,’’ Fizdale said of Ntilikina’s performance. “He didn’t pass up much. I really thought he got after it defensively and competed hard. The guy was playing against one of those special, once-in-a-lifetime talents [Warriors guard Stephen Curry]. I thought he really did a solid job against that.”

Burke started the season’s first five games, but prompted the change with a 1-for-10 shooting night Wednesday. The point guard picture should become more crowded next week when Emmanuel Mudiay is expected to make his season debut after recovering from a sprained ankle. Berman suggests that the Knicks may be realizing that they won’t get a top point guard in free agency and are revisiting the idea of developing Ntilikina at that position.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Enes Kanter doesn’t seem to be on board with the Knicks‘ new lineup, Berman adds in a separate story. Kanter is normally talkative with the media, but he didn’t have much to say after losing his starting job Friday. It marked Kanter’s first appearance in a reserve role since being traded to New York before the start of last season. “Coach said he wants me to lead the second unit,” he told reporters. “I’m just leading the second unit.’’ Kanter had a chance to leave the Knicks over the summer, but elected to opt in for the final year of his contract.
  • The Nets traded for Jared Dudley to help mentor their young players, but coach Kenny Atkinson says he’s learning things from the 12-year veteran as well, relays Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. “And for the coach too, right,” Atkinson responded when asked about Dudley’s impact on the team. “The young coach, he’s been in the league longer than I have. I learn things from him every day … his spirit and his enthusiasm and he’s a positive dude.”
  • Caris LeVert promises better times are ahead for long-suffering Nets fans. In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, LeVert expressed confidence that the team has turned the corner. “I think in years past, a lot of people were kind of mocking Nets fans, and Nets players and things like that, but I think those days are over,” he said. “We’re becoming a good team, somebody that people have to respect.”

Knicks Notes: G League, Hezonja, Dotson, Lee

As was reported last week, the G League is creating a new opportunity for NBA prospects over 18 years of age to sign a contract worth $125K as an alternative to the one-and-done route in college basketball. And per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, at least two current Knicks players, both of whom had to wait a season out of high school before entering the NBA Draft, would have taken advantage of this new program if it had been offered when they were getting ready for college.

Big man Enes Kanter, who attempted to play his freshman season at Kentucky before being ruled ineligible, and his current backup, rookie big man Mitchell Robinson, both told Bondy that despite skepticism surrounding the new program (e.g. salary too low, missing out on benefits of big-time college basketball, etc.), they like the new option for young prospects.

Kanter, who turned down millions to play in his native Turkey to play at Kentucky, said in his typical brash fashion, “I turned (millions of dollars) down to play NCAA and then they say no college basketball. Are you kidding me? The NCAA rules are terrible. Write that.”

Robinson, who enrolled at Western Kentucky but quickly withdrew to take the year off to  prepare for the draft through individualized workouts, was a bit more measured, saying “I probably would (go that route) because the G League helps you get developed to play at the next level. I don’t see how it would hurt. You can get all the reps you want but you also need to be on the court. A lot people think that school won’t help them so this would be the best thing for them.”

Meanwhile, both Emmanuel Mudiay and head coach David Fizdale also support the new G League initiative, with Fizdale going as far as to support the end of the ban on high schoolers jumping straight to the NBA. “Most of them aren’t (ready for the NBA). But… I’ve always looked at this issue as a regular working human being would be able to make millions of dollars when they’re 18… so how do you tell an 18-year-old who can dunk and shoot 3s that he can’t go to the league?”

Marc Berman of the New York Post has more out the Big Apple this evening:

  • Mario Hezonja appears to have maybe taken it personally after being ripped on social media by former team executive Clarence Gaines Jr., the right-hand man to Phil Jackson during a forgettable era of Knicks basketball from 2014-2017. Hezonja scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting and was physical on defense in a loss to the Bucks one day after Gaines’ tweet went viral.
  • A potential silver lining to the ankle injury suffered by prized rookie Kevin Knox is the emergence of the otherwise seldom-used Damyean Dotson, who finished with 14 points in 31 minutes on 4-of-8 shooting from long range.
  • The neck injury to Courtney Lee that has sidelined the veteran since the beginning of training camp remains a mystery, with Lee planning to undergo more tests to find a remedy or the cause of the neck spasms. It remains to be seen whether the effects of the injury are in any way related to the Knicks’ efforts to trade Lee.

New York Notes: Knicks, Butler, Kanter, Nets

Jimmy Butler‘s trade request was made public just two days after Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills spoke to fans about building the roster “the right way” and hanging onto the team’s future first-round picks. Since Butler’s initial short list of preferred destinations included the Knicks, there was some initial uncertainty about whether Mills would stick to his public stance or whether the club would get involved in the Butler sweepstakes.

Nearly three weeks later, we appear to have our answer. Within his latest report on the Butler saga, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that the Knicks “never called” the Timberwolves about the All-Star swingman. Reports have suggested that upwards of 25 teams have at least inquired on Butler, so the fact that the Knicks never even made a call is a clear indication that they’re sticking to their guns on building the team “the right way.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • As Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Frank Ntilikina vie for the Knicks‘ starting point guard job, no player has separated himself from his competition during the preseason, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. As a result, head coach David Fizdale has yet to finalize any lineup decisions. “What ends up coming out of it is what fits the best,” Fizdale said. “All these guys are competing and nobody is flying out in front. Ultimately the final decider may be what combinations work the best.”
  • Enes Kanter is just 26 years old and has only played in New York for a single season, but the big man is already something of an “elder statesman” in the Knicks‘ locker room, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, who explores Kanter’s role as a leader.
  • The Nets‘ odds of landing Kyrie Irving and/or Jimmy Butler in 2019 free agency appear to be dwindling significantly, prompting Brian Lewis of The New York Post to explore the team’s potential Plan B.
  • In an interesting piece, NetsDaily outlines the impact that a corporate decision by Spanish club Barcelona had on a pair of Nets draftees.

Atlantic Rumors: Dinwiddie, Robinson, Irving, Kanter

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has mixed feelings about hearing his name in trade rumors, according to an Associated Press report. Dinwiddie is considered a potential target for the Suns, who are in the market for a point guard. Dinwiddie is playing for the bargain rate of $1.656MM before he enters the free agent market next season, and the Nets have other point guard options, which only fuels the trade talk. “Being in trade rumors all summer I guess is two pieces: I want to be here. I love being here. I’m happy that they didn’t (trade me). On the flip side, the spectrum of teams calling me (meant) obviously I played well,” Dinwiddie said.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Trey Burke doles out high praise when asked about second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The 7’1” center has dazzled teammates during fall workouts and Burke compares him to a Hall of Famer. “I got a chance to play with him in open gym, and I was shocked a little bit,” Burke said. “His ability to just get a rebound off of the rim, just go right back up and just dunk it, it reminded me of like a young — and this is high praise — it reminded me of like a young Shaquille O’Neal, just skinnier.”
  • Kyrie Irving is trying to downplay the notion that he wants to leave Boston when he becomes a free agent next summer, as he told Celtics.com in comments that were relayed by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. The Celtics point guard even tossed out the possibility of getting his jersey in the rafters with other franchise greats when he retires. “Obviously it’s everybody else’s job to look forward to my future before I can, so I just really thought it was important to make sure it’s known that this franchise is really built for the next few years of being at the top-tier of teams in the league,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? What more could you ask for from an organization to really elevate your game? When you want to be on the same lineage of greatness as the guys that have come before you, there are times where I have thought about having No. 11 in the rafters, hopefully, one day. That’s a dream.”
  • Another player heading into free agency next summer, center Enes Kanter, reiterated his desire to re-sign with the Knicks, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets“I want to retire here. Nothing has changed,” Kanter said.

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Knicks, Sixers, Kurucs

Terry Rozier is entering a contract year and is one of several productive point guards on a Celtics roster that also features Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and EuroLeague star Brad Wanamaker. As such, it makes sense that his name would pop up in trade rumors, as it did last week when a report indicated he may be on the Suns’ wish list. For his part though, Rozier is unfazed by those rumors, as A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston details.

“It’s only going to get crazier every year, I feel,” Rozier said. “You just have to try and control what you can control. Try to focus on getting better every summer. Getting wiser, thinking about the game. I’m ready to get it going, ready to start the season.”

Even if he remains in Boston through the 2018/19 season, the summer of 2019 will be a big one for Rozier. With Smart locked up to a lucrative new long-term contract, and Irving a candidate for a new maximum-salary deal, the Celtics may not be able to retain Rozier if he draws serious interest from other teams in restricted free agency. Again though, the fourth-year guard isn’t focused on his long-term future for now.

“I mean, I’ll see how it goes for myself,” Rozier said, per Blakely. “I’m not really going crazy. I got a season to worry about. I’m not worried about what’s next for me individually; I’m just worrying about how special this team can be.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • During an appearance on SiriusXM Radio, Enes Kanter said he’s “love to see” Kevin Durant on his team again, adding that he’ll “try to recruit” his former Thunder teammate to the Knicks in 2019 (link via Marc Berman of The New York Post). Of course, Kanter’s recruitment of LeBron James this offseason wasn’t particularly effective, and there’s no guarantee the center will even be a Knick a year from now — Kanter hopes to remain in New York for the long term, but will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
  • Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the only long-term certainties for the Sixers, so the team’s new general manager should be a creative thinker who isn’t afraid to shake up the rest of the roster if it moves the team closer to title contention, writes David Murphy of Philly.com. The 76ers are considering both external and internal candidates as they seek a new head of basketball operations.
  • Nets second-round pick Rodions Kurucs said during an interview with LTV Sport Studio in Latvia that he expects to spend some time with the Long Island Nets in the G League during his rookie season, as relayed by NetsDaily. Kurucs, the 40th overall pick in the draft, signed a four-year deal with Brooklyn, so the club figures to be patient with his development.

Central Notes: Forman, Ellenson, Evans, Kanter

Bulls GM Gar Forman has done a good job of acquiring young talent but the hard part is yet to come, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explains. Chicago will need to use its cap room and land at least one star player to become a major threat in the Eastern Conference, Cowley continues. Forman’s reputation around the league is shaky and he’s never been able to land such a player in his current position. That could eventually wreck this rebuilding project, Cowley concludes.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons power forward Henry Ellenson is entering a pivotal year in his career, Ansar Khan of MLive.com notes. Ellenson is expected to his minutes increase under new coach Dwane Casey and Ellenson has been working diligently to become a stronger defender and improve his ball-handling. However, the third-year big man out of Marquette struggled with his new shooting motion during summer league games, particularly from long range, and that’s disconcerting, Khan adds.
  • Free agent additions Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans, along with first-round pick Aaron Holiday, should facilitate the Pacers’ desire to increase their 3-point production, according to Greg Rappaport of Pacers.com. McDermott closed out last season in Dallas by making nearly 50% of his long-range attempts in the final 24 games, while Holiday posted solid 3-point percentages during his college career, Rappaport continues. Evans has improved his long-range shooting over the last three seasons and will be an upgrade over Lance Stephenson, Rappaport adds.
  • Knicks center Enes Kanter took a shot at the Bucks franchise and said he never considered joining them this summer, Royce Young of ESPN reports. Kanter posted a deer emoji on his Twitter account, then deleted it minutes later, the night before he decided to opt in and stay in New York. But Milwaukee was never on his radar. “I know I was not going to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the Milwaukee Bucks,” he told Young. “Unless they give you good, good money, then go, but you don’t leave New York for Milwaukee.”