David Zalubowski/Associated Press
New York Knicks President Steve Mills is open to a reunion with Enes Kanter but acknowledged the ball is firmly in Kanter’s court regarding whether he wants to remain in the Big Apple.
Mills discussed Kanter’s status Thursday during an interview on MSG Network, per ESPN’s Ian Begley:
Ian Begley @IanBegley
Steve Mills on Enes Kanter: “Enes wants to be here in New York,” Mills said on MSG Network. Mills was then asked if the next move is the Knicks’ or Kanter’s. “Really, it’s his,” Mills said. “He has to choose to opt in.” Kanter has a $ 18.6 million player option for next season.
The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov reported in April that Kanter was “leaning towards” testing the free-agent waters this summer.
The 25-year-old center also went on the record to make it clear he sees New York as a long-term home.
“I was thinking about it today, after you play for New York, you really don’t want to go play anywhere else,” Kanter said, per the New York Post‘s Howie Kussoy. “I told you from Day 1 I want to be here. … When I say I want to make New York my home, it’s no lie. I want to stay here long term. I don’t just want to stay here one year and then make a decision later.”
Opting out would be a risky move for Kanter, both in terms of his earning power and a potential return to the Knicks.
Kanter would have multiple suitors in free agency, but it’s hard to see how he could command $ 18-plus million a year given his skill set.
He can’t stretch the floor—two total three-point attempts in 2017-18—and he remains a major defensive liability away from the basket. According to NBA.com, he allowed opponents to shoot 45.7 percent on attempts from greater than 15 feet.
And in the event Kanter starts receiving big offers, the Knicks may be hesitant to get into a bidding war for a player who’s not an All-Star talent.
Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play at all next year. Building for the future should be the Knicks’ main goal over the next couple of seasons, and part of that would be avoiding costly long-term contracts that limit their financial flexibility down the road.