NBA: Knicks C Kanter 'not happy' with demotion

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jan 22 2019 09:49 AM

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter watches his team, the New York Knicks, play the Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena in London on television in White Plains, New York, U.S., January 17, 2019. Caitlin Ochs, Reuters

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter told reporters Monday he isn't happy and doesn't agree with his demotion to a smaller role by coach David Fizdale.

"I was very disappointed," Kanter said of Fizdale's decision after the Knicks' 127-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. "There was nothing to be happy about, so I'm not happy, and I definitely don't agree with the decision, of course."

Fizdale told Kanter last week the team -- which dropped to 10-35 on Monday -- planned to focus on developing second-year center Luke Kornet and rookie Mitchell Robinson, leaving Kanter as the third option at the position. 

Kanter, 26, played 19 minutes on Monday, scoring 11 points, but his playing time was boosted when Kornet hurt his ankle, leaving after just seven minutes.

"It's tough," Kanter said. "Because they're trying to give the young guys a lot of minutes and get them better, but it's not like I'm 32, 33 years old. I'm 26 years old. And I want to go out there and compete and play basketball."

Kanter said he has not requested a trade, but ESPN reports the Knicks have shopped Kanter for expiring deals and would consider buying out his contract if they can't find a trade. 

Kanter is making $18.6 million this season in the final year of a four-year, $70 million pact after exercising his option last summer.

"I love it here, but in the end, I want to play basketball," he said. "I miss playing basketball, man. And I would let (general manager) Scott (Perry) and my agent handle that stuff."

Kanter is averaging 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game this season, roughly the same as his numbers last season. 

He broke into the NBA in 2011-12 with the Utah Jazz and also spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Thunder before the Knicks acquired him in the September 2018 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City.

Kornet, who joined New York after going undrafted in 2017, took over Kanter's starting role in December. 

The 23-year-old out of Vanderbilt is averaging seven points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game across 23 contests (nine starts) this season while shooting 43.4 percent from 3-point range.

Robinson, 20, had eight points and six rebounds in 16 minutes Monday before fouling out. He is averaging 4.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 16.9 minutes per game across 30 appearances (12 starts). He was drafted in the second round (36th overall) last June.