Let’s run it back.
In February 2019, the struggling New York Knicks waived seven-year veteran and big man Enes Kanter. It didn’t take long for the 6’10, 250-pound center to find his way onto a new NBA roster, either. Six days later, with multiple teams interested, Kanter signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The original plan was for Kanter to serve as the back-up to the ‘Bosnian Beast’ Jusuf Nurkic.
Then, on March 25, that plan was altered drastically. Nurk suffered a season-ending, gruesome leg injury, which resulted in Kanter thrust into the starting role. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Blazers the remainder of that year which resulted in a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
Many wondered what could have been with these two on the same roster for a complete season. Unfortunately, that was all speculation… until November 20, 2020.
After one short season with the Boston Celtics, Kanter is “back home” in Portland.
Finally, it's the season Rip City deserved two years ago.
It's also safe to say Kanter is optimistic about what could have been but now likely could be in Portland.
Kanter knows his role with the Trail Blazers heading into next season and he recognizes what the Blazers have in Jusuf Nurkic.
“I feel like two years ago if we didn’t lose Nurk we could’ve won a championship,” Kanter explained. “Nurk brings so much to the table… I always say it to the people around me – I see him as an All-Star.”
“I think this year he has a really good chance to make an All-Star. Two years ago, when I signed with Blazers after getting released by the Knicks, that was one of the things I was most excited about, to play alongside Nurkic. What he did in the Bubble after not playing a whole season, just shows what kind of player and what kind of human being he is.”
The NBA restart down in the Orlando, Florida ‘Bubble’ was certainly something special for the Trail Blazers.
Not only did Nurk make his return to the court after that leg injury back in March 2019, but his performance was big time, averaging 17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the eight seeding games.
Rip City got a taste of what could have been for one month back in 2019. Then, there was the reemergence of Nurk in the starting lineup during the NBA restart.
Now, Nurk and Kanter will get another shot together on the same roster this upcoming season. Not to forget all the additional pieces President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey also brought in: Robert Covington, Harry Giles, Derrick Jones Jr., and re-signing Carmelo Anthony and Rodney Hood.
“I think this season, we’ve got [Nurk], we got all the offseason signings… I think we have a very special, talented team,” Kanter added.