Enes Kanter

Here's where to go if you're looking to place blame for Trail Blazers' rough start

Here's where to go if you're looking to place blame for Trail Blazers' rough start

PHOENIX – The Trail Blazers have struggled through the early season and a segment of the fan base is always looking to blame someone.

And rather than simply looking at the injury list and being done with it, they’re trying to blame just about everyone but Blaze the Trail Cat.

What I’m hearing a lot is the idea that the team should have held on to Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu. And should not have “let go” of Enes Kanter and Seth Curry.

I’ve dealt with this before, but this seems like a good time to go over it again.

First, let’s differentiate between trades and free agency. Kanter and Curry were free agents last summer and it wasn't a matter of the team "letting them go." The Trail Blazers knew they would be priced out of the market for Curry, who had a very good season with Portland. He eventually re-signed with Dallas, where he played before he became a Trail Blazer, for $32 million over four years. That was out of Portland’s reach, since all it could offer was the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.7 million.

Kanter was given the first call by Neil Olshey last summer at the onset of free agency and he vacillated on his decision to take the TMLE. So, Portland went to its second choice, Rodney Hood, who had been off to a career year before suffering a season-ending injury. A good move, obviously … and Kanter ended up signing with Boston for about a million bucks less than he would have made in Portland.

Now, let’s get to the other three players. Harkless and Leonard went to Miami in a deal for Hassan Whiteside, who is in the final season of his contract. Whiteside was brought in to give the Trail Blazers a replacement at center for Jusuf Nurkic, who isn’t expected back until sometime in the new year. Bazemore, also on an expiring deal, came in a trade with Atlanta for Evan Turner.

Both those deals allowed Portland to preserve cap space for one more big trade – hopefully for a major star making a lot of money with multiple years left on his deal. Since the Blazers have had little luck luring free agents to town, the idea of making a deal for a big-time player who would be under their contractual control for a while, is the next best thing.

And it's also a big (and expensive) commitment to building a team that can compete for a championship.

OK, that said, those trades have turned out just fine for Portland and I’m tired of hearing how much the departed players have been missed. I’m not knocking them in any way, but the fact is, what came in return has been very good for this team.

Whiteside has averaged 16.2 points. 12.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.4 blocked shots per game this season. Leonard, Harkless and Aminu (who is now hurt) have COMBINED for 15.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game this season.

And oh yes, a player by the name of Carmelo Anthony was added to the mix a while back – amidst all sorts of pleas from fans begging them not to do it because of fears about the bad raps that have dogged Anthony,

But so far, Anthony has been a solid player who has blended seamlessly with his new teammates. And, of course, he’s given the team 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

So, this all leads back to the original point. If you have trouble figuring out what’s wrong with your Trail Blazers, look no further than that injury report – which features Zach Collins, Hood and Nurkic.

That’s this team’s entire starting front court. And they are most certainly missed more than the players who were traded away.

Enes Kanter is reportedly heading to Boston

Enes Kanter is reportedly heading to Boston

As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, unrestricted free agent center Enes Kanter is signing a two-year, $10 million deal with the Boston Celtics.

According to the report, Kanter will also have a player option in the second year of the deal.

Before free agency tipped off on Sunday, the Blazers and Celtics were the two teams reported to be interested in the 27-year-old’s services.

Kanter has confirmed the deal by giving a big shout-out to his agent Hank Fetic on twitter.

Kanter became a reliable starting center for the Trail Blazers this past season after Jusuf Nurkic’s season-ending leg injury.

Portland went 18-5 in the 23 regular-season games that Kanter was on the floor. He averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds a night for the Blazers while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.

Kanter quickly became a fan favorite in Portland, but with the trade for Hassan Whiteside, it was clear the Blazers were not going in a different direction.

According to ESPN’s Marc Spears, Kanter felt pressure to make a decision quickly with the Blazers.

Kanter signed with the Blazers in February after reaching a buyout with the Knicks.

He will now join the fifth team of his career. He was selected as the No. 3 overall pick by the Utah Jazz in 2011.

Most-likely Trail Blazer free-agent target: Enes Kanter

Most-likely Trail Blazer free-agent target: Enes Kanter

Free agency opens in the NBA Sunday afternoon and the Portland Trail Blazers, already into the luxury tax and with just the $5.7 million taxpayer mid-level to spend, are taking a knife into a gunfight.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars in cap space and exceptions out there, including 17 max-contract slots and really only about 10 top-tier free agents to fill them. Just like the summer of 2016, there are likely to be a lot of players overpaid this time around.

That doesn’t bode well for the Trail Blazers.

But keep in mind, just a couple of weeks ago, Portland had the 25th pick in the draft and Evan Turner. Since then, the Blazers have drafted Nassir Little, a consensus lottery pick, and traded Turner for Kent Bazemore, a defender with three-point shooting skill. So the summer is already off to a successful start.

It makes sense that while the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Knicks, Celtics and Raptors are fighting over the big names Sunday, the Trail Blazers will be going about their business trying to tie up one of their own free agents for that $5.7 million slot. Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood are much more likely to sign with the Blazers than most other free agents because they had a taste of Portland last season. They were comfortable with the system, their teammates, the culture of the franchise and the winning that they experienced last year.

Of those two, the most likely Portland target would be Kanter, who was originally acquired to be a backup center to Jusuf Nurkic, but became a solid starting center through the team’s run to the Western Conference finals. Kanter spoke highly of his time with the Blazers and he is shaping up as the team’s No. 1 target in free agency, to continue to fill Nurkic's spot. Hood would have been a top target until Bazemore was obtained, but there is a duplication of skills there with Bazemore.

That would leave the team’s expiring contracts free to be used later in a deal for a more high-profile player.

The Blazers will also need a minimum salary player to fill out the roster and Neil Olshey usually has that player identified early. Last year, you remember, he signed Nik Stauskas July 5 and added Seth Curry July 6.

Here’s a look at free-agent scenarios for the Trail Blazers:

BEST CASE: Enes Kanter doesn’t get some extravagant offer out of the gate from another team. If it’s close, I think there’s a good chance he’d choose Portland. But asking him to turn down big money over multiple seasons would not be fair. Best case – the popular center from Turkey will be back. With the team already in the luxury tax, I would expect Al-Farouq Aminu to be gone, with his market value somewhere around $10 million a year. Second-year guard Anfernee Simons is scheduled to move up into Seth Curry’s spot in the rotation and with Curry’s price going up, he will not be back, either. That leaves restricted free agent Jake Layman and the best-case scenario is that he doesn’t get an offer above $3-$4 million a year, and the team would probably match and bring him back.

WORST CASE: Kanter gets an offer of $40 million over four years from somebody and accepts it, leaving Portland to search for another center to hold down the fort for Nurkic. Then Aminu doesn’t find an offer at his asking price and the team re-signs him – which would probably end up with him starting again this season, effectively blocking Zach Collins from a starting role. I don’t expect that to happen, but it is the worst-case scenario long-term, for this team. Then Portland ends up having to fight teams with a lot more money for a free agent to fill that taxpayer mid-level slot. The end result of that would probably be having to pay a $3 million player $5.7 million to sign here.

Enes Kanter's comments on Zion Williamson don't sit well with Julius Randle

USA Today Images

Enes Kanter's comments on Zion Williamson don't sit well with Julius Randle

Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter is known for being outspoken.

He’s been a longtime critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his authoritarian policies. Now, he’s speaking out about No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

"I kind of feel like he's overhyped like he's Julius Randle with hops," Kanter told Colin Cowherd on his radio show The Herd on Wednesday.

Apparently Kanter’s red-hot take on Williamson did not sit well with Randle, who fired back in a post on Twitter.

Randle isn’t wrong. In a loss to the Trail Blazers in March, Randle did drop 45 points on Portland, but scored only two of those against Kanter out of six possessions.

It wasn’t enough to give the Pelicans a win, and Kanter made sure to point this out in his response.

While Kanter’s strong opinion of Williamson didn’t sit well with Randle, it wasn’t all shade.

"If he develops his shot, he definitely could become a Hall of Famer,” Kanter said of Williamson. “It's all in his hands. He just needs to put the work in and go out there and show the whole world."

Report: Blazers one of three teams interested in Enes Kanter

Report: Blazers one of three teams interested in Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter was acquired off of waivers late last season and quickly became a fan favorite in Rip City. He was a key big off the bench, and when Jusuf Nurkic went down with a gruesome leg injury, he was tasked with playing the starting center role on a team trying to lock in home court. 

He filled the role magnificently and was a huge reason the Blazers were able to make an improbable run to the Western Conference Finals. 

But now he enters the free-agent market and the Blazers may not have the money to keep him around. However, that isn't going to stop them from trying. 

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Trail Blazers are one of three teams said to be showing interest in Kanter.

The free agent signing period starts at 6 p.m ET on June 30th.  However, the Blazers will have a large hurdle in front of them - lack of cap space. 

The Blazers don't have any, and will only be allowed the taxpayer mid-level exception (TPMLE) to sign free agents with. The TPMLE is said to be worth around $5.7 million, which could be far below Kanter's open market value. Even if that is Kanter's value, the Blazers would have to decide if they want to pursue Kanter or fellow Portland free agents Rodney Hood and Seth Curry. 

If Kanter were to resign with the Blazers it would be a huge get, especially since there is no timetable for the return of starting center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic broke his leg against the Nets late in the season, and most people expect him to miss a large chunk of the upcoming season. For a team fresh off a deep playoff run, having a stopgap to help ease the pain while he recovers would be extremely valuable. 

The Blazers do have Zach Collin, Meyers Leonard, and Skal Labissiere on the roster, but Kanter would still be a smart free agent play. He adds depth in both the long term and short term, and certainly help the Blazers keep pace with last season's success until Nurkic is healthy. 

For what it's worth, the Lakers are also showing interest and Kanter is currently in Los Angeles... 

But he was there holding one of his 30 free basketball camps this summer. So chalk this one up to coincidence. 

Stay tuned to NBC Sports Northwest for all the latest free agent news as we approach the June 30th start date. 

Around the web: The best of Blazers social media


Around the web: The best of Blazers social media

Thanks to social media fans, get a glimpse into the true offseason from some of their favorite NBA players. From Enes Kanter's epic cheat meals, to a rookie learning tough lessons about Portland traffic, social media brought us along for the ride. Here are some of the best social media posts of the last week from your Portland Trail Blazers. 


Enes "7 Hamburgers" Kanter hits the grill

USA Today

Enes "7 Hamburgers" Kanter hits the grill

Enes Kanter is a man of faith, so much so that despite the Blazers making one of their deepest playoffs runs in two decades the Blazers big man still managed to fast for Ramadan. For the entire length of Ramadan, May 5th to June 4th, Kanter would not eat, drink, or even take medication for his separated shoulder from sunup to sundown. 

But now that Ramadan is over, so too is Kanter's fast. 

How did Kanter celebrate his ability to eat on the regular again? By having a cheat meal Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be proud of and taking to social media to show off his skills behind the grill.

1...2...3...4...5...6...7! Seven burgers!!! 

Was this really a cheat meal, or was Kanter filming a new episode of Man vs Food? 

All joking aside, a month's long fast is no easy task by itself. Add playing in the NBA Playoffs on top of it and it becomes even tougher. Kanter managed to balance it all and help lead the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals. 

As all of Rip City will profess, this cheat meal was well deserved. 

Now, where's the next BBQ at? 



Enes Kanter uses his platform for good, uses basketball as his escape

Enes Kanter uses his platform for good, uses basketball as his escape

TUALATIN – There are still many question marks surrounding Enes Kanter’s future.

The Trail Blazers center along with, Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, and Jake Layman (restricted) will all become free agents this summer.

Portland owns Kanter’s non-Bird Rights, so a team will easily be able to offer him a lot more money this summer. 

One thing is certain:

Kanter has enjoyed his time in Rip City.

Since Kanter landed with the Trail Blazers in mid-February, he has shown his appreciation and love for the organization and the city. Kanter was an integral part in Portland making it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years. 

The Trail Blazers center started off Tuesday’s exit interview by saying, "signing here was the best thing that ever happened to me in my career."

“It’s been an amazing experience… This team, this organization, the whole state, not just made me a better basketball player, but made me a better person on and off the court… From day one, they opened their arms, they gave me a warm welcome. From the first week, I felt like I was part of this team for years,” Kanter said.

Kanter also said his experience in Portland will play into his offseason decision.

The 7-footer mentioned “winning” is one of his highest priorities when thinking about his offseason decision on where he will end up next season.

Over the last few months, Kanter has been extremely vocal about the Turkish government reportedly requesting an INTERPOL "Red Notice" for him back in January because of his alleged ties to exiled U.S. based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Kanter has openly supported.

Being a professional athlete, Kanter has used his platform to educate people on what is going on in Turkey.

 “I’m going to spend some of my time in Washington DC this summer because whenever I go there most of the senators just always sit down and talk about all the stuff that’s going on back in Turkey,“ Kanter said.  

Kanter added, “I’m trying to use this platform to be a voice of all those innocent people [in Turkey] that don’t have one.”

Because Kanter cannot travel outside of the United States, he is going to be keeping busy with youth basketball camps.

Along with his usual workouts and offseason training, Kanter will be hosting over 30 kids’ camps in different cities across the US. All for free.

Kanter feels he is able to give back by not charging families money to come to his camps.

Kanter discussed at exit interviews that life has been hard with his situation, and he does feel that he has been put on the earth for a reason. He is also thankful to have basketball in his life.  

"Basketball is like my escape...as soon as I step on the court, all I care about is my teammates, basketball and winning. But as soon as I wake up in the morning... The fight begins."

Kanter will continue the fight for people in Turkey and weigh all of his options this offseason. NBA free agency begins July 1st at 9:00pm pacific time.

Trail Blazers’ center Enes Kanter sleeps with a bedside-table panic button and his teammates had no idea

Trail Blazers’ center Enes Kanter sleeps with a bedside-table panic button and his teammates had no idea

While Enes Kanter and the Portland Trail Blazers are fighting to keep their season alive against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, the Trail Blazers center is fighting for something else behind the scenes.

Kanter has been a fierce critic of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey’s descent into authoritarianism. Because of his outspoken beliefs of the Turkish government, the 27-year-old player has been the target of death threats and fears for his life.

Kanter has said the Turkish government has requested an INTERPOL “red notice,” which essentially is a request to locate and arrest an individual pending extradition. While a search of INTERPOL’s red notice database did not reveal any current notices against Kanter, it’s important to note not all notices are disseminated publicly.

[RELATED: Enes Kanter remains in USA on "Red Notice"... but what does that mean? ]

While the 6-foot-11 center is focused on helping his team win a championship for the first time in 42 years, Kanter sat down with ESPN’s Tim Keown to talk about the death threats he’s received, why he’ll keep voicing his opinion and what it's like to have the support from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

Kanter revealed that upon joining the Blazers in February, he spoke with local FBI agents, who suggested he install a panic button within arm's reach next to his bed. 

“So Enes Kanter goes to sleep every night and wakes up every morning with tangible proof of his own mortality -- and others' possible designs on it -- less than an arm's length away. This, too, Kanter relays dispassionately, as if a bedside-table panic button connected to law enforcement is simply one more modern amenity, like a high-tech thermostat. He has learned to accept the absurd as normal.”

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden explains why he and Kanter have become friends, and why he recently wrote a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking Canada to ensure Kanter’s safe passage in and out of the country.

"Sen. Ron Wyden, a 6-foot-4 former basketball player at UC Santa Barbara, wrote a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking for Canada to ensure Kanter's safe passage in and out of the country. Since he joined the Blazers, Kanter and Wyden have become friends; Wyden took Kanter's case not only to Trudeau but to the floor of the Senate, where he warned Erdogan, through the vast but underwatched reach of C-SPAN, that America was paying attention to the "show trial" planned in April for Kanter's father."

Despite the threats Kanter receives every day, his teammate Jake Layman says it’s something he rarely talks about.

"He tries to keep that to a minimum. I've heard it's not pretty, and I've heard that it's serious stuff. I think the way he's handled it has been amazing. Fighting for his country every chance he gets -- it's very inspiring to see how much he goes through to fight for what he believes in."

Kanter doesn’t have any plans to stop his outspoken defiance against Erdogan anytime soon.

"I will never stop talking. I understand my mother and father and sister are in Turkey, but if I stop talking, who is going to speak for the thousands and thousands of innocent people in jail? People are getting tortured and killed, so I have to talk about these issues. I'm not a journalist or a politician, so this is my platform."

Read the full article here from ESPN. 

Game 2 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors: How and Where to Watch

Game 2 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors: How and Where to Watch

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OAKLAND – The Portland Trail Blazers have another chance to steal a game on the road and take homecourt advantage from the Golden State Warriors before the series shifts to Portland. After dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, 116-94, the Blazers feel confident they will play better in Game 2 Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

CJ McCollum had a lot to say after Game 1: “I think we played a terrible game. We still had a chance going into the fourth quarter, so we’ll tighten some things up and look forward to the game on Thursday.”

McCollum also said he thought “anything but what [the Blazers] did [in Game 1]” against Steph is what they are going to need to do for Game 2.  There’s no doubt that the pick and roll defense on Steph Curry will be a main focus.

The playoffs are all about adjustments and throughout this postseason we have seen Blazers head coach Terry Stotts make changes to his lineup and rotation along with other in-game adjustments. All eyes are on how Portland decides to defend the back-to-back champs in Game 2.


Where to Watch: ESPN

Tip-Off Time: 6:00 p.m. 

Point spread: Golden State -7

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (5:30 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio


For the Trail Blazers,  Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) is out for Tuesday’s Game 2 vs. Golden State.

For the Warriors,  DeMarcus Cousins (left quad) and Kevin Durant (right calf) are out. Kevon Looney (left knee) is probable.


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