Enes Kanter has been absent for the last three games, as the veteran center battled illness and then remained home as the New York Knicks traveled to London to face the Washington Wizards. Kanter stayed home because he thought he was at risk of harm from the Turkish government, which he has spared with in the press and on Twitter.
But upon the Knicks return home and Kanter’s return to the lineup, head coach David Fizdale was prompted about Kanter’s role moving forward and, in speaking to Ian Begley of ESPN, Fizdale painted a picture that doesn’t necessarily include Kanter as a member of New York’s rotation.
Fizdale indicated that he and Kanter had an “open and honest conversation about having three centers now,” alluding to the presence of Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet. From there, the head coach said he was “going to try (his) best to share those minutes” but that he had “a priority to grow” Robinson and Kornet at this juncture.
On the surface, it may seem silly to jettison Kanter, particularly with regard to Kornet. Kanter has been mentioned in trade discussions in recent days, however, and with only 17 days until the NBA’s trade deadline arrives, New York’s priorities have seemingly shifted. Robinson, a former five-star prospect and an intriguing talent, is apparently in New York’s future plans but Fizdale also spoke positively about the sweet-shooting big man in Kornet.
“He’s an option for sure,” Fizdale told ESPN of Kanter. “(But) I’m going to let Luke (Kornet) battle with him. Steven Adams is a beast but Luke battled Joel Embiid, who was arguably the best in the league. And he’s as physical as they come. So this is a good lesson for Luke. I’ve got to put Luke in these situations. And let him go through this stuff.”
It remains to be seen as to just how long Kanter will be a member of the Knicks organization and, in conjunction, how long he’ll remain out of the rotation. Still, this is an intriguing situation to monitor and all indications are that observers will get a nice long look at Robinson and Kornet in the coming days.