It has been a long, strange season for Enes Kanter, but his ending is likely a lot better than the team he left behind in New York.
Kanter signed for the remainder of the season with the Portland Trail Blazers less than a week after being waived by the Knicks. Portland entered Wednesday night tied for the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings while the Knicks, the team that thought he no longer fit, entered the night with a 17-game losing streak and a 10-46 record.
Kanter announced his signing on social media, writing on twitter, “I look forward to helping the Blazers achieve the ultimate goal of competing for a championship. Excited to meet my new teammates, coaches, staff and most importantly the fans. It is a blessing to continue to compete at the highest level. Let’s go Rip City.”
Kanter had fallen out of favor in New York, putting up consistent numbers but seeing his playing time dwindle as the Knicks focused on a future with big men more versatile and athletic. He did not play at all in six of his final eight games in New York while fans chanted, “We want Kanter” repeatedly throughout the stretch. The Knicks were 0-9 in the games he sat and were winless entering Wednesday since he left.
"I’m happy for him,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “Seriously. That’s a great deal for him to be landing with a playoff team.”
In 44 games with the Knicks this season, he averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, posting 25 double-doubles while the team went 10-34 with him in the lineup. But his season was filled with political drama as he openly fought with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, remaining back in New York while the Knicks traveled to London last month.