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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Enes Kanter says he wants to retire as a Knick

“You realize after you play for the Knicks, you don’t want to play for nobody else,” Kanter said.

Enes Kanter of the Knicks reacts late in

Enes Kanter of the Knicks reacts late in the second half against the Grizzlies at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 6, 2017. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Enes Kanter hasn’t even spent half a season with the Knicks, but he’s already said he wants to end his career with them.

“Is it bad?” Kanter said smiling.

Kanter’s future is up in the air, though. The 25-year-old center has an $18.4-million option for next season, and he’s said he hasn’t decided what he will do. Kanter said he just wants to focus on this season.

Acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Carmelo Anthony trade in September, Kanter professed his love for the Knicks and New York almost immediately. He said it could be a special team, and he said there’s no better place to play than Madison Square Garden.

Now he’s saying this is where he wants to stay.

“You realize after you play for the Knicks, you don’t want to play for nobody else,” Kanter said. “Everything you need is here, the staff, the crowd, the team, the organization, you don’t want to play for nobody else. This is the place.”

Kanter is a good complement for Kristaps Porzingis because he plays inside and does all the dirty work.

He became a fan favorite with his toughness, hard work and hustle. Kanter was a major part of the Knicks’ fast start. His production has dipped lately as has his playing time, though.

Since his 31-point, 22-rebound performance on Christmas Day, Kanter has averaged 10 points, 7.3 rebounds and 19.8 minutes in the last six games.

Kanter first said he wanted to retire a Knick on the MSG Network.

Kristaps quiet in crunch time

Kristaps Porzingis’ numbers are on the decline, especially in crunch time.

He was scoreless in the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s loss to San Antonio, had two points in Wednesday’s loss in Washington and he didn’t take a shot in the overtime of Friday’s defeat in Miami.

Your best player has to be involved. Defenses are focusing on him more, but the Knicks have to do a better job of getting Porzingis the ball, which speaks to their need for a point guard.

“I think both — them paying even more attention to me and me not being in good situations where I can get the ball and attack,” Porzingis said. “We got to learn how to do that better. We’re gaining experience even though they’re losses. We’re gaining experience as a team. We’ll do a better job at the end of the game.”

Ginobili’s Garden finale?

Plenty of fans came out to pay their respects to Manu Ginobili in what might have been his last game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Ginobili scored 12 points in the Spurs’ win and was serenaded numerous times by “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ma-nu, Ma-nu.” He said it felt like a home game.

“I saw it coming before the game,” Ginobili said. “I started getting texts saying, ‘Listen, my doctor is coming. Can you say hi? A friend of a friend and my brother is coming.’ I said, OK, there’s going to be a lot of Argentines here.”

One of Ginoboli’s baskets was a lob pass to LaMarcus Aldridge from behind the three-point line that went in.

“I’ve been working on it for a long time,” Ginobili joked. “I finally was able to take it.”

George’s future

Paul George spent a few days back home in Los Angeles this week and was showered with “love” when the Thunder played the Lakers Wednesday. Fans called for him to come to the Lakers throughout the game.

“It was awesome,” George said. “Just being home, being in front of friends, family, and then just the respect, the love, the recruitment. It was awesome.”

Rumors persist that George will sign with the Lakers as a free agent this summer. George hasn’t ruled out a return to Oklahoma City.

This is the first year that George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony have played together. After a rough start, the Thunder have won eight of their last 10.

“I’ve got a lot to think about,” George told ESPN. “If we’re trending, if we’re going in the right direction, if I feel there is something that we’re building, and there’s a foundation -- it would be kind of clueless, just stupid on my behalf to up and leave.”

Westbrook isn’t planning to make a sales pitch to George: “Sales pitch is going to be when we win a championship. Beat that pitch.”

Thomas tribute on hold

Isaiah Thomas made his Cavaliers’ debut Tuesday and returned to Boston for the first time Wednesday since he was traded in the Kyrie Irving deal. Thomas requested that the Celtics not give him a tribute video that night.

Thomas, who has been sidelined with a hip injury, didn’t play Wednesday. He wants the tribute to be on a night when he can play and his family can be there. The Celtics agreed. But Paul Pierce isn’t too happy.

The Celtics plan to do it Feb. 11 when Cleveland is back in Boston, which is the same day Pierce’s number will be retired. Pierce, on ESPN’s “The Jump,” said he doesn’t want to see any video tributes of Thomas on his night.

Pop didn’t want Parker

It’s a good thing Gregg Popovich had a change of heart about Tony Parker. The Spurs coach said the future Hall of Fame point guard didn’t make a good first impression on him.

“He was a skinny kid and the first time he worked out, I didn’t want him,” Popovich said. “I thought he was soft and thought he didn’t care and thought he felt he was too cool for school. So we said no and we sent him out of town.”

General manager R.C. Buford wanted to give Parker another look and Popovich agreed but on his terms. Popovich said he would pick three other players to work out with him and it would be in the post to “see if he had any toughness.”

He impressed Popovich enough that the Spurs took Parker in the 2001 draft. Four championships later, it’s good that Popovich had a change of heart.

Fast breaks

- Anthony passed Patrick Ewing (24,815) and moved into 21st place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Thursday night. Anthony needs 171 points to reach 25,000.

- Gerald Green was shooting around in his driveway waiting for a team to call him. The Rockets did, signing him Dec. 28 for wing depth. But Green’s addition is even more vital now that James Harden is sidelined for weeks with a hamstring injury. Green has scored 27 and 29 in his previous two games going into Saturday night, hitting 15 of 25 three-pointers. “Thank goodness we got him,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.

- The Mavericks will retire onetime Knick Derek Harper’s No. 12 when the Knicks visit Dallas on Sunday. Harper was the starting point guard for the Knicks’ 1994 team that lost to Houston in the NBA Finals.

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