With free agency next on the agenda for the Milwaukee Bucks, reports from New York suggest a potential interest in Turkish center Enes Kanter.
With just a week until free agency opens, the first report of Milwaukee Bucks’ interest in a player who could be set to hit the open market has arrived.
As the long-term direction of Milwaukee’s play at the center spot remains uncertain, it appears as if they may be considering targets who could help them plug that gap.
According to a report from ESPN’s Ian Begley, if New York Knicks’ center Enes Kanter chooses to opt out of his player option and become a free agent, the Bucks could be among the teams interested in meeting with the Turkish big man.
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With a sizable $18.6 million on the table for next season in New York, it would seem unlikely that Kanter would choose to opt out, but considering Begley’s report indicates he had yet to make a decision, it seems like it’s not completely off the table yet either.
Kanter enjoyed a relatively successful season on an individual level in New York last year, and with the injury to Kristaps Porzingis, he’d likely have significant opportunity to build on that further if he stayed for next season.
The 26-year-old averaged 14.1 points and 11.0 rebounds across 71 games in 2017-18, including a couple of standout performances against the Bucks, which may have caught the front office’s attention.
As the Bucks matched up with the Knicks twice in four days to begin February, Kanter caused Milwaukee all sorts of problems as he racked up 17 points and 18 rebounds, and 19 points and 16 rebounds across the two games respectively.
Kanter’s scoring touch would certainly boost Milwaukee’s options in the front court, but it’s his dominant rebounding that is most likely the driving appeal behind any potential interest in his services.
The Bucks have been rooted toward the bottom of the NBA’s rebounding standings for a number of seasons, and a natural rebounder like Kanter may help them to bridge that gap.
Where Kanter certainly wouldn’t help is on the defensive end of the floor, as he’s developed a reputation for being more than a little lackadaisical on that end throughout his career.
Beyond his game, Kanter is well-known for being a complicated character, to put it kindly.
After being traded from Utah to Oklahoma City, Kanter burned all his bridges with the Jazz organization and fans due to negative comments about his teammates and the home crowd in Salt Lake City.
Kanter has also had a habit of getting into inadvisable skirmishes and confrontation, including one this season involving LeBron James that continued with a series of strange comments into the offseason.
Much more seriously, Kanter has been involved in a long running and complicated situation with President Erdogan and the Turkish government in regard to his own political views. The result has seen the Turkish government look to have Kanter deported, threaten him with imprisonment, and then as recently as last week, Kanter’s father was charged with “membership in a terror group“.
Getting back to basketball, if Kanter is to opt out, the chances of the Bucks being able to offer him anything close to the value of his player option seems unlikely. To do so would take significant dealings elsewhere in order to clear cap space, so in all likelihood Kanter would have to be looking to take a colossal pay cut to join Milwaukee.
With all of that considered, all signs point to Kanter choosing to stay in New York, but free agency can often create strange and surprising decisions, and as the first meaningful rumor surrounding Milwaukee’s free agency plans, signing Kanter would certainly fit that bill.
Kanter’s deadline for his player option decision is June 29.