New York Knicks center Enes Kanter has seen his playing time and role change significantly of late, going from a starting role for a good portion of the season to a reserve role of late. He hasn’t been particularly pleased with the switch, voicing his displeasure about the change to the media following a blowout loss in Utah last week.
Kanter told reporters on Tuesday that he spoke with Knicks GM Steve Perry on Monday. Per Kanter, though, the discussion with his boss did not center on a trade demand. Instead, the topics of conversation were Kanter’s decreased role and the team’s struggles of late.
“I did not ask for a trade, no,” Kanter said after Tuesday’s 115-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.
“I did not say, ‘Scott, try and trade me.’ No I did not say that. Because I like it here a lot. And I probably won’t say to Scott’s face, ‘Scott I want to get traded.’ Because I like it here a lot. But again, in the end, we all are competitors, basketball players, in the end I like it here so much, but again I want to win. I want this team to get to the playoffs one day. This is my blood, man, I’m sorry. If anyone asks anything else, I’m not going to do it. I’m going out there to get a win every time.”
Last night, Kanter finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes off the bench. New York’s loss dropped it to 9-29 as the Knicks have lost 13 of their last 14 games. Overall, New York has the second-worst record in the East (trailing only the 8-29 Cleveland Cavaliers) and is tied with the Phoenix Suns for the NBA’s second-worst record.
Luke Kornet has taken Kanter’s starting job, but Kanter has worked to support him even in his backup role.
“It’s just, all this anger and frustration is coming from losing,” Kanter said, per Popper. “It’s not fun to lose 12, 13, whatever in a row. It’s not fun. It’s just tough, man. But obviously I had a meeting with Scott. He just said, ‘You know, this is the growth. This is one of your biggest tests in your career, so just try to be a good teammate.’ That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Just help the young guys and try to be the best teammate you can be. So that’s what I’m trying to do. Again, this organization is paying me. I don’t want no free money. So every time I’m out there I’m going to try to get a win.”
Kanter was acquired from Oklahoma City in 2017 in exchange for Carmelo Anthony and underwent a stint earlier this season in which he came off the bench. That stretch, however, still saw the 7-foot big man average over 25 minutes per game. The former third overall pick of the 2011 draft is averaging 14.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54.3 percent. The Knicks’ defensive rating, however, is 5.3 points better when Kanter is on the bench.