Enes Kanter did not play in the fourth quarter of Utah’s loss to Dallas Wednesday night. He had gone out earlier with an eye injury but after the game Kanter said he was good to go, that he wanted to go back in, but this was coach Quin Snyder’s call.
Kanter is frustrated — and he wants out. Now.
It’s not just this game, it’s his role with this team, and the Turkish big man told Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune he wants to be traded by the Feb. 19 deadline.
Frustrated by his role during his three-plus years in Utah, center Enes Kanter told The Salt Lake Tribune he hopes to be traded before this year’s deadline….
“It was not my eye at all. I don’t know what it was, but it was not my eye at all. So we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Kanter said after the game, declining to elaborate further.
Kanter has seen his role shrink because Synder is rightfully giving Rudy Gobert a bigger one. Gobert is a shot-blocking machine (2.2 a game) who improves the Jazz defense by 7.3 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court because of his paint protection. Gobert doesn’t provide much offense, but he’s improving and efficient when he does shoot (usually at the rim). Gobert is going to get some Most Improved Player votes and deserves the run.
Kanter is a solid NBA big man — 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, does most of his damage near the rim — but he is not a great defender. Opponents score 4.7 points per 100 possessions more when he is on the court. Because of that inconsistent defense Kanter’s role has shifted as Snyder has leaned more toward Gobert with Derrick Favors. Trevor Booker is in the mix taking up big man minues as well.
Kanter can be frustrated all he wants, and he’s right that between previous coach Tyrone Corbin and now Snyder he has seen his role with the team change numerous times.
However, there is little chance he gets moved before the deadline for a couple reasons.
The main one is that Kanter is a restricted free agent this summer — teams are not going to give up quality assets to get now when they can just poach him come July.
Plus, now with this request teams will call Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey with lowball offers. Teams are going to be looking to steal him. Utah may be thinking they should move him just to get something in case they decide not to match this summer, but the return will be less than Kanter’s actual value.
More than likely, nothing happens, and Kanter becomes a story this summer. But it’s something to watch as we head toward the Feb. 19 trade deadline.