Enes Kanter has been unhappy with his situation at points this season, complaining in late October while coming off the bench. While he’s back in the starting lineup and averaging roughly five more minutes per game than his career average, it would still make sense for the Knicks to explore a potential trade.
Here are five that could work…
Enes Kanter for Miles Plumlee, Justin Anderson
This is one of the two major Kanter-centric deal structures we’d likely see from the Knicks, using his expiring $18 million contract to take on longer-term salary and a young piece or pick as a sweetener. The Hawks have a dearth of talented centers, and although they may not be major players in free agency, the extra $12 million saved by dumping Plumlee could come in handy for trying to outbid the market on talent. For the Knicks, Anderson is an intriguing wing/stretch four prospect worth gambling on despite his nomadic NBA journey thus far. If head coach David Fizdale could resurrect Emmanual Mudiay‘s career, why not Anderson’s? The added cap hit would hurt, but not enough to take New York out of the, say, Kevin Durant sweepstakes with some further maneuvering.
Enes Kanter for Ian Mahinmi and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Along the same lines as the last deal, but this play brings higher risk and higher reward. Washington has been banking on Oubre Jr. to blossom into a wing threat his entire career, with some highlights but not enough concrete improvement. He’s still only 23, but with his rookie deal expiring, Oubre Jr. is due for what should be a healthy extension. The Wizards already have the dependable Otto Porter and are one of the least financially flexible teams in the league. They could be willing to deal Oubre Jr. if it means getting Mahinmi off their books, but the Knicks would have to hope matching an Oubre Jr. offer letter won’t completely decimate their cap space.
Enes Kanter for Bismack Biyombo and a 2nd round pick
If the Knicks just want to get their quick return on Kanter, something like this would be the move. Biyombo has a similarly large salary and is signed through 2020, but New York could stretch his contract and collect the pick in hopes of landing another Mitchell Robinson or Allonzo Trier. Charlotte could be interested in clearing up cap room with Kemba Walker hitting the free agency pool this summer, and in theory would part with a draft pick to do so.
Enes Kanter, Frank Ntilikina and a 1st round pick for John Wall
Here lies the other approach a Kanter trade could take, throwing him in a larger deal as salary filler in New York’s pursuit of a star. Recent reports have the Wizards shopping John Wall and Bradley Beal, and if they want to go in the rebuild direction, landing a big prospect in Ntilikina and a future first could entice them. Some Knicks fans may be tired of dealing assets to chase starpower, but it’s hard not to think about how big a paradigm shift bringing in a player of Wall’s stature would be. Suddenly a Durant or Kawhi Leonard feels in play, and even if the Knicks have to settle for a lesser player in free agency, Wall and Porzingis with a developing young core is nothing to complain about.
Enes Kanter, Frank Ntilikina for Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside is no Wall, but he is an interesting fit with Porzingis and could be enough to bring big names to July’s pitch meetings. The two would form a terrifying defensive force in the frontcourt, while leaving the primary interior defense and rebounding duties to Whiteside over the lankier Porzingis. Whiteside can also step out to the mid-range and is a dangerous roll threat, which Porzingis can work with as a spread big. The Heat have been hovering at the middling level for some time now, and could look to shake things up. They’re tied down to a number of big contracts, and shaking loose from Whiteside’s while getting Ntilikina could be the move Pat Riley is looking for.