REPORT » Blazers Acquire Kanter (Again) In Three-Team Trade

by Casey Holdahl
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Welcome back Kanter. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers have acquired veteran center Enes Kanter, who was integral to Portland's run to the Western Conference Finals in 2019, in a three-team trade with the Celtics and Grizzlies. The cost? Mario Hezonja and the majority of the trade exception they generated in the deal that sent Kent Bazemore to Sacramento in exchange for Trevor Ariza...

With the trade, the Trail Blazers aquire a certified starting-caliber center, who is already familiar with Terry Stotts' system, as their backup to Jusuf Nurkic. That was the plan the last time the Trail Blazers acquired Kanter as free agent back in 2019, though that obviously changed when he was thrust into the starting lineup after Nurkic suffered a fractured left leg a few weeks into his tenure with the team. He would go on to average 11.4 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and 76 percent shooting from the free throw line, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in the 2019 postseason despite playing with an injured shoulder.

There was hope that Kanter would return for the 2019-20 season, as Nurkic's wasn't slated to return from injury until the final months of the regular season (or at least, what the final months would have been were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic), though he opted to return to the east coast to sign with the Celtics. But for whatever reason, Kanter never seemed to fit into the rotation in Boston, so when he became available for little more than a late first-round pick (from the Grizzlies) and cap space (from the trade exception), the Trail Blazers evidently pounced at the opportunity to bring him back. 

The deal brings an end to Hezonja's time in Portland. He was expected to play a significant role off the bench after signing as a free agent for the vet minimum in 2019, but much like Kanter's time in Boston, Hezonja never seemed to find his spot in the rotation, averaging 4.8 points on 42 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from three, 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 16.4 minutes per game. 

Now, Neil Olshey and his staff turn their sights to free agency, which officially started at 3 p.m. on Friday. Deals cannot be officially signed until Sunday at 9:01 a.m. 


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