It’s been a bit of an odd week for Enes Kanter. During a loss to the Bucks on Thursday in Milwaukee, the Knicks’ resident provocateur got into an altercation with Giannis Antetokounmpo, consequently earning himself an ejection.
Then, in a game against his former team, the Utah Jazz, on Saturday, Kanter lost his starting spot to rookie Mitchell Robinson and went 0-of-6 for zero points in 17 minutes of action. Adding insult to injury, the Utah crowd roundly booed Kanter every time he touched the ball, as Jazz fans are apparently still salty about how he pushed his way out of the organization back in 2014.
Kanter wasn’t happy about being sent to the bench, and he let everyone know about it after the game, calling the situation “painful” and “embarrassing” at various points.
Via Marc Berman of The New York Post:
“I just want to go out and play basketball and want to win,’’ he said. “I don’t know why they’re shutting me down. I just want to win. I don’t care if I start or come off the bench.
“I just want to play basketball and help my team win. On the bench not on the bench, cheer for my teammates and try to stay positive, but I don’t know what the situation is. I don’t know why they’re shutting me down this early.”
“I understand we want the young guys to get better, but it’s very painful to watch it out there,’’ Kanter said. “I’m essentially positive and try to help the young guys get better. It’s too early in the season to shut me down. My goal this year was to go out and be an All-Star, but now look at the situation.’’
Kanter is in the final year of his contract with the Knicks, and with the organization firmly in rebuild mode and in the process of evaluating an assortment of young talent, none of it should be that surprising or confusing.
To be fair, that’s obviously a tough situation for a player who clearly feels like he can contribute on a larger scale. It’s only been one game with the new lineup configuration, but Kanter’s diminished role might very well be trending downward as the season wears on.