After trading Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley to the Los Angeles Clippers for Mike Muscala before the February NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers created one roster spot that they could use to sign a free agent. One of the players the Lakers targeted was Enes Kanter. Unfortunately, after agreeing to a contract buyout with the New York Knicks, Kanter decided to play the remainder of the 2018-19 NBA season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
In a recent interview with Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Kanter revealed that when he officially parted ways with the Knicks, the Trail Blazers, Lakers, and three other NBA teams expressed interest in adding him to their roster. Kanter said that he chose the Trail Blazers because it’s “the best place I can be.”
The 26-year-old Turkish big man also said that the presence of LeBron James in Los Angeles is the main reason why he didn’t sign with the Lakers. After they previously engaged in a heated exchange of words on and off the court, Kanter believes it would be “very weird” to play alongside James.
“It would be very weird. To go back to [Madison Square Garden] and play the Knicks. It would be very weird,” Kanter said. “But I’m glad because I picked Portland.”
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) February 21, 2019
The rift between LeBron James and Enes Kanter started during one of the games between the Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. After James shoved Frank Ntilikina, Kanter decided to stand up for his teammate and yelled at LeBron’s face. Kanter went to social media to criticize James, saying that they were not going to back down even against the man who called himself “king.”
“I don’t care who you are. King – what do you call yourself? – King, queen, princess, whatever you are,” Kanter said at the time. “You know what? We’re going to fight. And nobody out there going to punk us.”
However, one year after serving as a hero in New York, Kanter slowly found himself out of the Knicks’ rotation earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season. Despite what happened, Kanter doesn’t hold any grudge against the Knicks, saying that he understands that they are going in a different direction and need to focused on the development of their young players. Before he left the team, Kanter revealed that he had a conversation with Knicks executives Steve Mills, Scott Perry, and Coach David Fizdale as they wished each other well.