Enes Kanter

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.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Kanter, Knicks, Embiid

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is not thinking of sitting out the remainder of season due to concerns over a contract extension, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. According to another report earlier this week, Tatum had expressed some reluctance about playing this summer because of an elevated risk of injury, which could potentially impact his ability to reach a max rookie scale extension this offseason. Tatum does have some concerns about contracting the novel coronavirus in the Orlando bubble and the league’s plans on addressing the issue, according to Blakely, but it’s not worrisome enough for the 22-year-old to sit out.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • While some NBA players believe that playing again this season might take the focus away from social justice reforms, Celtics center Enes Kanter believes it would be far more effective to get the point across while playing. He made those comments on The Enes Kanter Show podcast (hat tip to Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston). “The whole world is going to be focusing on you, right? You can make a huge difference,” he said. “All the microphones will be on your face, so you can get your message out. Whatever you want to talk about, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ freedom, justice, democracy. Whatever you want to talk about, the whole world will be listening to you.”
  • The Knicks’ head coaching search will begin in earnest next week with introductory interviews scheduled with candidates, SNY’s Ian Begley tweets. Those initial conversations will be brief and take place over video conference. They will be followed by longer, more formal interviews, likely also via video conference, Begley adds. Thus far, nine candidates have been identified as probable interviewees.
  • Joel Embiid‘s contract is now fully guaranteed, but there was very little chance it wouldn’t have happened anyway, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic explains. Embiid’s salaries for the next three years were previously conditionally guaranteed, but the NBA’s recent agreement to prorate bonus clauses and performance incentives this season impacted his max contract. Even if the Sixers had wanted in the future to recoup some of the non-guaranteed money in Embiid’s contract, he not only needed to miss time with ailments related to prior injuries, but the team would have had to waive him. In that scenario, the Sixers would have still been on the hook cap-wise for the guaranteed portion of his salary.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Kanter, Facility, Theis

The Celtics will “most likely” offer Jayson Tatum a maximum contract extension whenever the offseason arrives, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to Tom Westerholm of MassLive). Windhorst addressed the situation today on SportsCenter, saying Tatum is the young star the franchise plans to build around.

“If Jayson Tatum is the superstar that they envisioned when they began this whole rebuilding process when they traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for all of those draft picks hoping to land a player like this, we could see ‘Glory Days’ for the Celtics again,” Windhorst said. “But it’s very much up in the air, and I’m gonna tell ya, they’re gonna have to pay him like it because after this season ends, he is going to get most likely a max contract. They’re going to bet that he becomes that player.”

Westerholm notes that the best outcome for Tatum would be if the league agrees to a temporary freeze on the salary cap, which is at risk of declining significantly due to the lockdown. Tatum will be eligible for a new contract starting at 25% of the 2021/22 cap (or up to 30% of the cap if he meets certain benchmarks).

There’s more from Boston:

  • After spending most of the past two months in Chicago, Enes Kanter is on a road trip back to Boston so he can be there when the team facility reopens Monday, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Kanter explained that he’s traveling by car instead of flying so he won’t have to quarantine for 14 days. “I need some kind of discipline in my life right now,” Kanter said of returning to basketball. “Because, like, right now, I’m waking up late and eating whatever. I work out whenever I want to work out. Once you are in Boston, I think my life is going to be a little bit more disciplined. And I’m going to be more focused because, when you’re not in Boston, your head is all over the world.”
  • In an appearance earlier this week on FS1, Kanter raved about how hard his teammates have worked to stay in shape during the hiatus, relays Chris Cotillo of MassLive“We have these virtual workouts with the Celtics,” Kanter said. “We get on the call with the strength coach and literally just do push-ups and sit-ups. I see some of the players doing workouts with suitcases because they don’t have the tools to work out. I’m like, that is going to bring us a championship, that’s that championship mentality.”
  • Center Daniel Theis is one of few Celtics who has experience playing games in empty arenas, writes Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. Appearing on the network’s “Celtics at Home” series, Theis recalled his days in Germany when nobody would show up for preseason contests. “You hear every voice, every word, every step,” he said. “It’s annoying.”

Enes Kanter Plans To Eventually Join WWE

Even if the NBA never comes back, Enes Kanter won’t be without a job. The Celtics center has been offered a deal to compete in the WWE and he plans on accepting it after his basketball career is over, as he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link).

Kanter previously explained to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors why he felt an attachment to professional wrestling.

“I’m very serious about it. I feel like it’s my world,” Kanter told Shaw last season. “You just got to go out there, talk trash, troll people. Lifting, I love lifting. It’s just fun, man. I don’t want to stop my sports career when I’m done with basketball. A lot of people go into broadcasting, coaching, but I want to continue opening the door in sports. That’s why I’m very serious about it.”

Kanter has been in contact with the WWE for some time, as he has relationships with some of the wrestlers in the league. The 27-year-old still has plenty of basketball left in the tank. In his eight-year career, the 2011 No. 3 overall pick has appeared in 634 games, averaging 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Kanter, Robinson, Musa

Sixers center Joel Embiid is joining forces with team managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer on a $1.3MM contribution to fund testing for 1,000 health care workers in the Philadelphia region, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. The donation has been confirmed in a team press release.

Embiid said he learned that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” The big man notes that the workers who have immunity can work in “risky environments” and donate blood to help patients recover. Embiid’s partnership with team ownership should quell speculation that he has a fractious relationship with the organization which could eventually lead to his departure.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter remains hopeful that the remainder of the season, or at least the playoffs, can be played, The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach writes. “We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,’‘ Kanter said on Zoom. “Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson might have the league’s most team-friendly contract, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The big man has a $1.66MM salary for next season with a $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Berman notes. The Knicks’ net rating improves by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court, Berman adds.
  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”