A Bitter Enes Kanter Says He ‘Never Liked Playing Basketball’ With Jazz

Marriages end, but divorce doesn’t always have to be contentious. Enes Kanter, obviously, doesn’t subscribe to that belief.

The Utah Jazz are definitely better off without the Turkish big man, and the 22 year-old claims he’s far better off with the Oklahoma City Thunder, too. Only one of those parties threw the other under the bus in advance of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Thunder in Salt Lake City, though.

During an incendiary media session this morning, Kanter said he “actually like[s] playing basketball” now and claims “everything was a frustration” with the Jazz. You can listen to the Kentucky product’s comments in full here, but below are the highlights – or more accurately, lowlights.

Well, Utah is beautiful.

If that’s Kanter holding back, however, just imagine what he really thinks about his old organization. And though we’ll never hear it with such transparency, it goes without saying that Quin Snyder and company possess similar thoughts about their former starting center.

The Jazz are 12-7 since dealing Kanter to Oklahoma City on February 19, emerging as one of the league’s most promising young teams in the process. It’s not hard to see why, either; his departure has directly coincided with Utah’s rise to the defensive elite. Spearheaded by the promoted Rudy Gobert, the Jazz boast the league’s best defense over that timeframe, allowing just 93.5 points per 100 possessions – over four points better than the second-place Golden State Warriors.

The Thunder, meanwhile, have cratered on that end since acquiring Kanter. Scott Brooks’ squad was a top-10 defense before the trade, but dipped all the way down to 25th in the 19 games Kanter has played in Oklahoma City. While some of that drop can be attributed to the recent losses of defensive stalwarts Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson, more of it is due to mind-numbing ineptitude like this from the Thunder’s trade prize:

There’s two sides to the floor in basketball, of course, and Kanter has been a beast for Oklahoma City on the offensive end while pulling down rebounds with ease. The pick-and-roll comfort he’s developed with Russell Westbrook will be especially key to the team’s long-shot playoff hopes without Kevin Durant, too.

Is Kanter a negative for the Thunder? It’s far too early to say, but that the question exists at all is indicative of how much rockier his beginning with Oklahoma City has been than box score statistics suggest.

Two things far more certain: Kanter was a negative for the Jazz, and he’ll receive widespread and well-deserved boos from the Utah faithful at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday night.

[H/T @andylarsen]