Enes Kanter

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What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

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When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.

Kristaps Porzingis says he doesn’t want to play center

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The Knicks just got rid of a franchise player who tormented New York fans with his reluctance to play his optimal position.

Now, the Knicks replace Carmelo Anthony with Kristaps Porzingis… who also doesn’t want to play his optimal position.

Porzingis, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“I think it’s better for us,” Porzingis said Wednesday. “Me at the 4, especially if I’m playing against a non-shooting 4, I can do a lot. When I’m playing against the 5, I’m fighting with the big a lot of times and I’m wasting a lot of energy. Obviously, offensively I have an advantage at center, but I’m just more comfortable playing at the 4.”

“Fours are usually smaller, and I can shoot over them easier,” Porzingis said. “If it’s a non-shooter at power forward, then I can be under the rim on defense and protecting the rim and that’s what I love.

Like Anthony at power forward vs. small forward, Porzingis – at center vs. power forward – is more effective at a bigger position. That’s true of many players in the modern NBA.

But, in the bigger picture, tussling with bigger players can be wearing. Porzingis has already looked susceptible to minor injuries. It’s probably best he spend some time at less-demanding power forward. With Joakim Noah, Enes Kanter, Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn at center, New York can accommodate Porzingis.

Still, the Knicks also ought to play 7-foot-3 Porzingis at center when they’re trying to maximize their chances of winning. Maybe that comes in a few choice games this year but more often next season. Perhaps, the 22-year-old Porzingis gets stronger and more capable of playing center in future years, too.

Anthony dodged playing down during his physical prime. This isn’t an identical situation… yet.

 

Enes Kanter says he would have taken knee during anthem, locked arms with teammates instead

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There have been no protests around the NBA during the national anthem than there were one year ago — teams are locking arms in a sign of solidarity and unity during the anthem, but that is all so far. (It is possible when regular season games start we will see players address the crowd or take other steps.)

The Knicks’ Enes Kanter says he was willing to take that one step further and take a knee — as has been seen in the NFL — but chose to side with what his teammates want to do, he told Ian Begley of ESPN.

“We (locked arms) as a team. If it were me I would have taken the knee. But as a team you know, we stand together. The most important thing I’m saying, man, I understand we have our differences. I feel like the most important thing in life is leave our differences on the table and try to find what we have in common. In America it doesn’t matter, anywhere in the world, it doesn’t matter, tall, short, black, white, fat, skinny, whatever you are, we need to work this out together. And then whatever is happening right now – I’m saying our country because I feel like this is my home. It’s just really sad, all these things are happening. In America, it’s freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Today, we protested peacefully out there. We didn’t do nothing crazy, whatever. I am going to pray for this country because I love this country and I hope things will get better and better every day.”

Kanter was born and raised in Turkey, but because of his support for the opposition in what has become a dictatorial country, Kanter has had his passport revoked, and his parents have had to renounce him (his father has been arrested multiple times). He has said before this experience has taught him to appreciate what he has in the United States, including his right to protest. Kanter tweeted this out.

This is the statement from the Knicks organization on the protest.

Another report Paul George has been impressed with Thunder so far

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Sorry Lakers fans.

Paul George may well come home to Los Angeles next summer — most people around the league see that still the most likely option — but him staying in Oklahoma City seems a growing possibility. A few things have to happen here — George has to decide he wants to stay, and the Thunder ownership has to agree to the massive tax hit they are about to take on to keep both of them (especially if Carmelo Anthony opts into nearly $28 million next season) — but it is possible.

As for George wanting to stay, David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com is the latest to report that George is liking what he sees in Oklahoma City so far.

The source says George has been impressed by the culture of the Thunder and how meticulous general manager Sam Presti and the organization are in building the roster and the franchise. George was impressed that the front office “had the (guts),” in the source’s words, to put everything on the line in getting him, and followed it up by getting Anthony without giving up any of the team’s core group. (The Thunder showed who it thought was more important to the team by re-signing defensive hound/offensive liability Andre Roberson for $30 million over three years, while including the offensively potent but defensively sieve-like Enes Kanter in the Anthony trade.)

There is a long season ahead, we will see how George and Russell Westbrook pair, and where Carmelo Anthony fits into the equation. If they mesh — and if those three are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to win, giving up something in terms of their numbers and games — and this season is successful (reaching the Conference Finals, for example) George may stay.

Then the question is will ownership take on a tax bill that could push $150 million, on top of their salary commitments. All the reports from ownership’s side said yes, they are committed to taking on that tax bill, but as this is the team that moved on from James Harden at least in part because of luxury tax concerns, there is some skepticism. To ride this wave out would be taking a financial hit for five or six seasons, then the team will need to start rebuilding (most likely).

There are a lot of questions to be answered, but the idea of George staying with the Thunder long-term is not crazy.

Russell Westbrook calls Oklahoma City “the place where I want to be”

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has yet to sign an extension, but the reigning league MVP says Oklahoma City is where he wants to be and he is “happy” about the offseason additions of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.

Westbrook complimented Thunder management for making the deals.

The unsigned deal has tempered some of the excitement building around the team. He has until Oct. 16 to ink a contract that would be worth more than $200 million. Westbrook says he hasn’t signed because of the birth of his son and a busy travel schedule.

Westbrook’s former teammate Enes Kanter, who was sent to New York as part of the deal that brought Anthony to Oklahoma City, also says he expects Westbrook to sign the deal.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball