Neil Olshey

Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Evan Turner is out and Kent Bazemore is in for the Trail Blazers, bringing an improvement in three-point shooting – a need for the team.

Portland acquired Bazemore from the Atlanta Hawks Monday in a straight one-for-one deal for Turner, a trade of two players with a year left on their contracts. Bazemore exercised his player option on his deal last week, a contract that reportedly will pay him $19,269,662. Turner’s final season with Portland would have paid him a reported $18,606,557.

“Kent’s skillset and ability to make an impact at both ends of the floor will be an excellent addition to our team and bolsters our perimeter prior to the start of free agency,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations.

Bazemore, who turns 30 on July 1, has played both small forward and off-guard, much like Turner, who will turn 31 in late October. Bazemore is known as a solid defender who has had two seasons in the top 20 in steal percentage. He is a career .352 shooter from three-point range while Turner sits at .296 for his career. Last season Bazemore shot 32 percent from three while Turner made 21.2 percent of his shots from distance.

Last season Turner averaged 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and had back-to-back triple-doubles during the season. Bazemore averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Bazemore played 24.5 minutes per game while Turner averaged 22 minutes.

Turner was a very popular player among his teammates and was solid at the foul line and defensively in late-game situations. He was also often the playmaker for the team's second unit.

Bazemore has shot 39.9 percent on corner threes for his career, 30 points higher than Portland free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu has shot in his career from the same distance. Turner has shot .343 from the corner on threes.

 

 

Trail Blazers missed “this infusion of energy” on draft night without the late Paul Allen

Trail Blazers missed “this infusion of energy” on draft night without the late Paul Allen

He was the owner of the Trail Blazers and Seahawks.

He was the co-founder of Microsoft.

He was a humanitarian and philanthropist.

But for the late Paul Allen, one of the biggest joys in his life was being a part of the NBA Draft process in Portland.

For recent Portland Trail Blazers fans, they will remember the Blazers late owner sitting on the baseline near the Blazers bench at Moda Center with his pinwheel baseball cap propped atop his head.

What fans may not remember is Mr. Allen sitting in the Blazers draft room each and every year, deliberating over every possible scenario, constantly trying to help build for the future of the team.

Allen passed away from cancer on October 15th, 2018 at the age of 65. Just three days before his team tipped off the regular season at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.  

June 20th, 2019 marked the first NBA Draft with no Paul Allen in Portland’s ‘war room’ in over 30 years.

After the Trail Blazers selection was locked in at No. 25 with Nassir Little out of North Carolina, Portland’s General Manger Neil Olshey spoke with the local media.

Olshey spoke on the emotions of a draft day without Allen.

“It’s hard. Look, as ecstatic as he would’ve been sitting courtside with us going to the Western Conference Finals and seeing that plan that was put in place four years ago when we kind of reset the roster, nothing made him happier than being in this room tonight,” Olshey said with a smile.

Allen was known for watching plenty of game film and diligently doing his homework on potential prospects.  He was all about making sure to draft the right player.

Olshey couldn’t help but think about how different this draft was in comparison to previous “energetic” Paul Allen infused drafts.

“It really was a different experience for us today without Paul [saying] ‘can we get him?  Oh get him!  Move up!  Can we buy a second [round pick]?  Go ahead buy a second, give them $4 million, give them $5 million,’ and no matter what the plan was going in, Paul always said he was an ‘all of the above’ guy. ”

Paul’s sister, Jody Allen, who now owns the Trail Blazers, was kept up-to-date on this year’s draft prospects and the Blazers draft board of whom they liked in this year’s class.

“We sent our stuff to Jody last night and said this our order, this is how we’re going to go, we’re locked in at 25 if we don’t make a move and we played it by that script,” Olshey said.

But draft day definitely was not the same for Olshey and his staff because there was no Paul Allen going through his typical draft day routine.

“Paul would come, he’d stop at the Pancake House and he’d have his pancakes and apple fritter, and he’d get here around 10am. We’d find a bunch of guys to get in the room, we’d sit here and watch film with him. He loved watching tape,” Olshey said.

“Then he would get bored with us and he’d shoot off to Powell’s [Bookstore] for a couple of hours. He had his routine and it was just fun and it kept us engaged,” Olshey added.

Allen purchased the Trail Blazers in 1988. He was just 35 years old. He became the youngest team owner in the four major professional sports leagues.

Allen’s had been enjoying the draft process ever since.

Olshey and his staff definitely felt Allen’s absence.

“It was different and I think everybody in the room felt a huge void. It just didn’t have the same energy,” Olshey said.

Allen’s energy was missing.

“You spend two months working on it after the season and you’re battling and you’re grinding out the board and you’re watching tape… After all, you do your board, right?  And then there was always this infusion of energy when Paul came in and you had to almost start from scratch because he liked the action,” Olshey said.

Olshey summed it up simply with, “It just sucks, the way things have gone over the last nine months [getting to the Western Conference Finals], he deserved [to see] that.”

In the end, this 2019 draft ended with Portland snagging a projected lottery pick at No. 25.

There’s no doubt Mr. Allen would be pleased.

It's doubtful Trail Blazers can swing a trade, so who will they draft?

It's doubtful Trail Blazers can swing a trade, so who will they draft?

Most long-time Trail Blazer fans are on the edge of their seats heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft, expecting – or at least hoping – their team makes some sort of blockbuster trade with those contracts that are set to expire after the upcoming season.

But I’m not sure that’s going to happen. In fact, I’d say it’s unlikely – for several reasons.

It’s too early for those expirings to have their highest value. A lot of NBA teams aren’t so willing to take on those contracts prior to free agency and the start of next season. It would be a signal they are likely tanking before the season even starts. It’s much more possible that at the trade deadline teams will have seen enough of their roster to know they aren’t going to make the playoffs so would more willing to take on those contracts for half a season. Another team, too, might be on the fringe of a playoff berth and desperate enough to give up a lot to get a player it thinks could put them over the top.

And the other factor that may stifle a major pre-draft deal is pending free agency, which doesn’t open until July. There may be quality players out there who would be available if their team lands a premium free agent. Would the Clippers, for example, deal Lou Williams or Montrezl Harrell if they sign Kawhi Leonard? Maybe.

Another factor limiting Portland’s trade options is its draft pick. This is considered a very weak draft. There aren’t a lot of can’t-miss players available and the Trail Blazers’ No. 25 pick has very little value. Not many teams would consider trading for it, because it’s late enough in the first round that you wouldn’t necessarily get a player you would want to give guaranteed money. You can probably get a similar player in the second round with no obligation for a guaranteed contract.

Who can the Trail Blazers get at No. 25?

Well, this seems to be a strange year. Outside of the top few players, there is a wide disparity of thought about the next level of prospects. There are no perfect 10s, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Blazers’ Neil Olshey has been pretty good at finding diamonds in the rough but the question when picking at 25 is always the same – will someone else take the player you covet before it’s your turn? And on the other hand, there could be slippage, with players falling past what their slot was forecast.

The Blazers need a wing player who can shoot but I wouldn’t expect them to draft for positional need. At that spot in the draft it’s always best to just get the player with the highest NBA ceiling, one who could be a future asset – regardless of position.

And it’s also important to remember that the Trail Blazers’ developmental staff does a good job of bringing players along. This is a factor because it’s doubtful that a rookie taken at No. 25 is going get any sort of significant playing time for a team that has designs on a conference championship.

A study of players who fit a rough stereotype of Portland’s acquisitions in the past could include the following players, some of whom are predicted to go higher than when the Trail Blazers will pick:

Bol Bol – Incredibly gifted but odds are that he won’t be on the board for Portland, but there is talk he’s slipping because of injury concerns and his dedication to basketball. It’s a shame shame that Walla Walla isn’t in the NBA NBA.

Kevin Porter – The 6-5 swingman out of Seattle by way of USC has the NBA body and is still young. Very explosive and athletic but needs work on shot selection and decision making.

Mfiondu Kabengele – He’s 6-10 and 250, a Canadian who played at Florida State. He jumped on a lot of draft boards during March Madness but spent the season coming off the bench. Is foul prone, too. His mother is Dikembe Mutombo’s sister.

Cameron Johnson – Spent four years at North Carolina and is a big-time shooter and a 6-6 small forward. Sounds like a good fit for the Trail Blazers but may be gone by the 25th pick.

KZ Okpala – A 6-8 wing out of Stanford who is explosive and very athletic. His shooting would probably need some work but he’s a good prospect with that athleticism.

Darius Bazley – A 6-10 forward who is reported to have a 6-11 standing reach. Committed to Ohio State and Syracuse but skipped college and the G-League to prepare for the NBA. A bit of a reach but you never know in this situation.

Trail Blazers could make a move, but don't expect Anthony Davis

Trail Blazers could make a move, but don't expect Anthony Davis

Now that the season is over and it looks as if the Golden State Warriors are going to have to make a miracle move not to look like a mediocre team next season, the talk turns to the Western Conference and the most basic of questions:

Who’s next?

As the runner-up to Golden State in the playoffs this last season, the Trail Blazers would certainly be a logical choice. And that means there’s pressure on Portland to make the Big Move to push it over the top – something that might duplicate what the Raptors did when they acquired Kawhi Leonard.

And the trade that is being tossed around the most, of course, is for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. And I would advise those wishing for the Trail Blazers to pull that one off to slow down and be a little more realistic.

The Blazers would probably be willing to go all-in on Davis but they just don’t have the chips to tempt the Pelicans. Or, more correctly, other teams have more to offer.

And let me say first, if you think the Trail Blazer brass hasn’t already thought of this and hasn’t already engaged in some discussions with New Orleans, you’re probably off base. I would assume by now a whole lot of teams have not only knocked on David Griffin’s door, but have been rebuffed.

There’s a reason the Lakers continue to be the most-talked-about destination for Davis. No, not LeBron -- although that's certainly a factor in Davis wanting to be there. They have the most to offer. Los Angeles could send the Pels two previous No. 2 picks in the draft along with the current No. 4 pick – as well as Kyle Kuzma. The Blazers would be offering high-salaried players who could provide cap room in one more year but I would also assume a team welcoming Zion Williamson doesn't want to think about cap space NEXT year.

It wants talent now.

So if Davis doesn’t land in Portland it doesn’t mean the team didn’t give it a shot. Those guys in the front office know exactly what’s out there for them in the West and are more excited about that prospect than you are.

And I do think the Trail Blazers will pull something off – and it will probably prove to be better than you thought it was going to be. That’s the way a lot of Neil Olshey’s moves have turned out over the last several seasons.

Who could they get? I have no idea. But I certainly didn’t know Jusuf Nurkic and a pick could be had for Mason Plumlee – and I had no idea Nurk would prove to be the player he’s become. I also didn’t expect Rodney Hood and Enes Kantor to show up here for the stretch run last season.

Olshey’s plan all along has been to prepare this franchise for the time when the Warriors drop off. The Warriors didn’t just drop off, though, they fell down in a heap due to injuries.

But the Blazers are closer to a Western Conference title now than they’ve been in a long time. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are in their prime and Jusuf Nurkic – when they get him healthy – is a force at both ends of the court.

Portland could still use more three-point shooting and a rim protector until Nurkic heals and to back him up after that.

You can play with one of those online digital trade machines all you want, but I’m not sure you really know which players to plug into it.

So my best advice would be to be patient and see what happens.

The Scoop: Happy Trail Blazers Day!

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USA Today Images

The Scoop: Happy Trail Blazers Day!

The Scoop livestream presented by Toyota of Portland is back for the summer! On Wednesday afternoon, Jamie Hudson took fan questions live on Facebook and made sure to get all of Rip City up-to-date on all the happenings surrounding the Trail Blazers.

The two big topics of the day:

Wednesday morning ahead of the Portland City Council Session at City Hall, the Trail Blazers organization was honored by the city.

Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts, along with President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, and Senior Vice President of Venue Operations Chris Oxley sat in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Nick Fisher, and the rest of the City Council while Wheeler proclaimed June 12th, 2019 "Trail Blazers Day".

Plus, it was announced on Wednesday that Damian Lillard has been named the winner of the NBA’s prestigious J. Walter Kennedy Award. The award is given annually to an NBA player, coach or staff member who has shown “outstanding service and dedication to the community.”

Other Scoop topics include:

-Damian Lillard working out with former Blazer Tim Frazier

-Jusuf Nurkic’s rehab progress

-Trail Blazers vacations

-Pre-draft workouts for Portland

Watch the FULL EPISODE right here:

Scoop Summer Show

Happy Trail Blazers Day!!! The Scoop brought to you by Toyota of Portland is back for the Summer! Let’s get you up-to-date on all the Rip City happenings and NBA reports right now on The Scoop…

Posted by NBC Sports Northwest on Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Portland City Council is committed to keeping Trail Blazers in PDX

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USA Today Images

Portland City Council is committed to keeping Trail Blazers in PDX

The Portland City Council is determined to keep the Portland Trail Blazers in Rip City for the long-term.

Wednesday morning ahead of the City Council Session at City Hall, the Trail Blazers organization was honored by the city.
Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts, along with General Manager Neil Olshey, and Senior Vice President of Venue Operations Chris Oxley sat in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Nick Fisher, and the rest of the City Council while Wheeler proclaimed June 12th, 2019 Trail Blazers Day.

“This is a proclamation honoring the Portland Trail Blazers. I’d like to thank coach Terry Stotts and Neil Olshey, Chris Oxley, and the Blazers staff for joining us this morning. I want to congratulate the Blazer players for having a truly incredible season this year,” Mayor Wheeler said.

Commissioner Nick Fish spoke to Stotts and Olshey directly, as well, showing his commitment to keep Portland an NBA city.

“I want to make a pitch for the future,” Fish said. “We were very lucky to have an owner of this team that invested freely in building great teams and keeping [them] here… We lost Mr. Allen to cancer. His sister is now running the team and obviously will be making some decisions about the team in the next few years about the direction of the team and her intentions."

“I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity too for the city to go on record of saying, we’ll do everything that we can within our power to keep the Trail Blazers here forever,” Fish added.

Commissioner Fish made sure to drive home his point that the city is determined to keep the Blazers in Rip City, adding, “there will be other cities competing for the Trail Blazers, there may be owners that have fancy ideas, but the Trail Blazers belong in Portland and the city is committed to keeping you here.” 

Mayor Wheeler then concluded the presentation to the Trail Blazers with a simple, but powerful statement:

“The Blazers are part of the DNA of this city.”

It’s obvious that Mayor Wheeler understands how much the Trail Blazers are rooted in this city and it’s clear the City Council is prepared to keep this team in Portland well into the future.

Trail Blazers lose assistant coach David Vanterpool to Minnesota Timberwolves

Trail Blazers lose assistant coach David Vanterpool to Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves have hired David Vanterpool as their associate head coach to work with head coach Ryan Saunders and run the T-Wolves’ defense.

Vanterpool has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach under the Trail Blazers’ Terry Stotts and has been credited with the development of Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The “associate head coach” title is a step up for Vanterpool, who has had numerous interviews for open head-coaching positions over the past two seasons.

“This is a great opportunity for David to increase and diversify his coaching profile in his pursuit of becoming an NBA head coach and one Terry and I had discussed at length with David prior to his decision,” said Portland President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.

``David was a valuable member of our staff and an important part of our success,” Stotts said. “In his seven years with the Blazers, he was instrumental in all facets of NBA coaching – game preparations, offensive and defensive game plans, player development and player relations. I am very happy for him and his new opportunity. We will miss him and wish him all the best.”

The Trail Blazers could possibly lose another assistant coach as Nate Tibbetts has been rumored to be a candidate for the Memphis head-coaching job.

Report: Neil Olshey agrees to contract extension with the Trail Blazers

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NBCSNW

Report: Neil Olshey agrees to contract extension with the Trail Blazers

According to reports from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has agreed to a contract extension through 2024.

Olshey came to Portland in 2012 and one of his first moves was drafting future NBA Rookie of the Year and four-time All-NBA selection, Damian Lillard. Olshey also orchestrated the deal that landed fan favorite Jusuf Nurkic in Portland in 2017, and his mid-season moves this past season helped solidify the bench and led to a deep playoff run for the Blazers. 

Portland finished as the No.3 seed the past two season, and this past season they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 seasons.

Olshey was promoted to President of Basketball Operation in 2015. 

UPDATE: The Trail Blazers have made the extension official. The following is the team's press release:

PORTLAND, Ore. (May 24, 2019) – The Portland Trail Blazers have announced a contract extension for President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, taking him through the 2023-24 season.

 “Neil has done an exceptional job finding and keeping the talent that has made the Trail Blazers a perennial playoff team, culminating in this season’s magical run to the Western Conference Finals,” said Jody Allen, Trustee of Paul G. Allen Trust. “I have great confidence in the culture he has created in Portland, and I look forward to seeing it thrive and grow for years to come.”

Promoted to President of Basketball Operations in 2015, Olshey was named the 10th General Manager in franchise history on June 4, 2012, and finished his seventh season at the helm in 2018-19. In his role, Olshey leads the organization’s Basketball Operations, overseeing talent evaluation, player personnel decisions, contract negotiations and salary cap management.

“Consistency and continuity have been great assets to us as a franchise, and Neil’s extension speaks greatly to our on-court success,” said Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan. “Neil and his staff have done a tremendous job executing his vision for the team and the results are something we are all proud of.”

Under Olshey’s leadership, the Trail Blazers have won two division titles, made the postseason six consecutive seasons and are coming off playoff series wins over Oklahoma City and Denver that led them to their first Western Conference Finals berth in 19 years. Olshey fortified the team’s playoff roster by executing midseason deals for Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter.

“I am honored to extend my tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers under the leadership of Jody Allen, the ongoing partnership with Bert Kolde, Chris McGowan and Terry Stotts and in the memory of Paul G. Allen,” said Olshey. “Leslie, Connor, James and I love Portland and feel blessed to be a part of the future of Rip City.”

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Olshey: "Everyone who comes through here has gotten better"

Olshey: "Everyone who comes through here has gotten better"

It was exit-interview day for the Portland Trail Blazers, the final chance for the media to interview the key players, coach and management of one of the most surprising teams in the franchise’s 49-year history.

There weren’t a lot of shocking happenings – other than President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey announcing that the team has extended the contract of head coach Terry Stotts. But that wasn’t much of a surprise, either, since Stotts had just engineered a run to the Western Conference finals for a team predicted before the season to win 42 games and miss the playoffs.

The pertinent video is on this website and I invite you to peruse it, but in the interest of time, let me hit a few of the highlights for you, in order of the players’ appearance:

CJ McCollum: “It was an incredible season based on what we went through. Expectations weren’t that high. It was a pretty incredible year.”

Meyers Leonard: “The last two games were what I know in my heart I can do. Heading into this offseason I feel very confident in what I’ve done. I’m happy to know I feel I gave the staff and the organization confidence in me. I’m going to come back next year ready for a more definite role.”

Evan Turner: “It was dope. We did a lot of great things this season. We went from being a playoff-caliber team to a potential championship-caliber team. We’re legit.”

Al-Farouq Aminu: “I’ve been here four years now. It’s the longest I’ve ever been at one organization. I don’t think you heard me complain too much.”

Damian Lillard: “People who might not have believed before, people who thought I was crazy for thinking we could push that far, now I’m sure a lot of people believe it more than they did before. We were coming off a sweep in the first round (last season). It’s a great feeling just to know, OK, we had a 15-plus lead in three of the four games. We know that we were capable of winning those games. And if those things go our way, we’re looking at going to the Finals.”

Maurice Harkless: “Overall, we have a lot to be proud of this season. We would have liked a better outcome. But that’s a huge accomplishment by us as a team.”

Enes Kanter: “It’s been an amazing experience. This team made me a better person and a better player. It was the best thing that ever happened in my career.”

Rodney Hood: “I’m not sure (about his free-agency). Obviously, we know it’s a business. We’ll see how everything works out this summer. I’m on the record with how much I love it here and I want to be back. I want to be embraced. That’s a big word that means a lot to me. Whether that equals to a dollar amount,  that’s what I’m looking for.”

Zach Collins: “(On whether he’d like to be a starter next season) Yeah, absolutely. I think this playoff run, not only for myself but for the team, it was a great experience. And now we’ve been there and we know what to expect. For me personally, going through that and being able to play a big role and help our team win a lot of games the playoffs, I’ve already learned so much, just in the last month in the playoffs.”

Anfernee Simons: “(The last game of the regular season) obviously gave me a lot of confidence. It was a good kick-start for the summer. (And in the summer league) I want to prove myself. I am young but I’m still able to play with the best of them. I can’t wait.”

Neil Olshey: “(On Stotts’ contract extension) We win every year. It’s year No. 7 – six straight playoff appearances. Two division titles. A trip to the conference finals. And we still have one of the youngest rosters in the league. But it goes beyond wins and losses. It’s alignment, partnership, Our young players develop. It’s a commitment to a longer-term view. One of the things I’m most proud of is everyone who comes through here has gotten better.”

Terry Stotts: “(On where he ranks on the list of Trail Blazer coaches) Doctor Jack (Ramsay)  is a Hall of Famer and Rick Adelman will be. I’m not going to touch those guys. They are idols of mine. I don’t even presume to be in that category. There have been a lot of great coaches here.”

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.