Without Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks aren’t expected to make much impact in the Eastern Conference this season. Even before the 2018-19 NBA season started, the Knicks already revealed that their main priority is the development of their young players. Most Knicks’ player seemed to understand their current situation, but not Enes Kanter, who previously declared that the team will be competing for a playoff spot in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference.
After serving as the Knicks starting center last season, Enes Kanter was recently demoted to the bench to give way to young center Mitchell Robinson, the No. 36 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Despite serving as a backup center, Kanter remains productive and is currently averaging 15.2 points and 11.3 rebounds on 54.1 percent shooting from the field. However, instead of using Kanter late in close games, Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale decided to rely on Robinson.
When the Knicks lost by just five points against the New Orleans Pelicans, Enes Kanter refused to give an answer when asked about how he felt sitting on the bench during the fourth quarter. However, some people perceived Kanter’s recent post on Twitter as his way of expressing his frustration with what is currently happening with the Knicks.
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) November 18, 2018
Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale is aware of the feeling of discontent and frustrations among his young veterans, especially Enes Kanter and Trey Burke. Both players are set to become unrestricted free agents next summer, and their performance in the 2018-19 NBA season could determine their value in the free agency market. However, Fizdale said that he’s trying to balance everything and stood firm that the Knicks’ number one priority this season is player development.
“I try to balance it,” Fizdale said, via Marc Berman of New York Post. “That’s the tough decisions you got to make. But we know ultimately this season’s biggest, most important thing we do is development. You can’t put anything above that. I do try to respect all of the guys and the situation that they’re in, but our No. 1 priority — I can’t put anything above it — is our player development.”
As Berman noted, the best solution for the ongoing drama in New York is to trade Enes Kanter. However, moving the veteran center won’t be as easy as anyone thinks. Kanter is set to earn $18 million this season, and the Knicks couldn’t take back contracts that could affect their salary cap flexibility next summer.
Despite being clearly unhappy with his role, Enes Kanter still remains professional, saying that all they need to do is to get better every game. The Knicks’ next game will be against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.