There are questions surrounding the New York Knicks after losing franchise superstar Kristaps Porzingis to a season-ending knee injury. The huge blow might force the Knicks to go into a different direction this summer, knowing that Porzingis might still miss majority of the 2018-19 NBA season.
The Knicks might have another problem to solve this summer. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that starting center Enes Kanter could opt out of the final year of his contract in the offseason, giving interested teams the opportunity to pry him away from the Knicks.
Kanter, who was sent to New York in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, has an $18.6 million option next season. He was expected to exercise his option to stay in New York, but Berman revealed that Kanter is now planning to hire an agent, then gauge potential interest in free agency this summer.
The 25-year-old center is having a solid year and is on pace to average a double-double in a season for the first time in his career. If he stays healthy and maintains his current pace, the seven-year veteran is expected to get a lot of attention on the free agent market this summer.
If he gets lucrative offers in the offseason, it will be up to the Knicks to decide whether or not they are willing to invest a lot on another big man. There is a chance they might let him go, as Berman pointed out that Kanter lacks leadership qualities. Coach Jeff Hornacek is also benching him in favor of Kyle O’Quinn in crucial stretches because of his “lack of quickness” on the defensive end of the floor.
It might also depend on what they get in the 2018 NBA Draft. New York will likely secure one of the first 10 picks in the draft, giving them an opportunity to get a younger big man. But according to Ian Begley of ESPN, the Knicks are eyeing wing players Miles Bridges and Mikal Bridges.
If he has it his way, Kanter wants to stay in New York. He said he has learned to embrace the city and the fans in his short stint with the Knicks.
“I like the culture, the fans, the city, the atmosphere,” Kanter said of the Knicks. “Like Madison Square Garden, the people, the organization, the writers. Do you want me to continue?”