When the New York Knicks bought out his contract, several NBA teams expressed interest in acquiring veteran center Enes Kanter, including the Los Angeles Lakers. After trading Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Mike Muscala before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers created a roster spot that they could use to add a player on the buyout market. Unfortunately, instead of joining the Lakers, Kanter decided to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers.
In a recent interview with JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors, Enes Kanter revealed why he chose the Trail Blazers over the Lakers when he became a free agent. Kanter said that he didn’t sign with the Lakers because he “had already enough drama with the Knicks.”
“There were a lot of rumors about whether they were going to get Anthony Davis or not, and how they were trying to trade almost the whole team — and it didn’t happen. The younger guys were going to be pissed. So, you know, I already had enough drama with the Knicks. I just didn’t want to get into more drama. I just wanted to be focused on basketball and go out there while having fun with my teammates. I want to be focused on basketball.”
— The Hill (@thehill) March 13, 2019
Aside from drama and frustrations surrounding the Lakers before and after the February NBA trade deadline, Enes Kanter also doesn’t have a good relationship with LeBron James. Bad blood between Kanter and James existed last season during one of the games between the Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers. After James shoved Frank Ntilikina, Kanter decided to stand up for his teammate and yelled at LeBron’s face. Kanter also criticized James on social media where he said that he didn’t care if he called himself “king.”
Besides the Lakers, the Boston Celtics also tried to add Enes Kanter to their roster, but the veteran center told Hoops Rumors that, for him, the Trail Blazers “made sense the most.” After spending a season-and-a-half on the rebuilding Knicks, Kanter said that he wants to play again for a team with a “winning culture.” It was not the first time that the Trail Blazers had expressed interest in acquiring Kanter.
During the 2015 NBA free agency, Enes Kanter revealed that the Trail Blazers offered him a contract before he re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. So far, there is no doubt that Kanter made the right decision to choose the Trail Blazers over the Lakers after he parted ways with the Knicks. While LeBron James and the Lakers are unlikely to reach the postseason, the Trail Blazers are set to make their sixth consecutive appearance in the Western Conference Playoffs this season.