Enes Kanter is glad to be away from the New York Knicks, who waived him Feb. 7.
The 26-year-old center scored 20 points and added 18 rebounds in Portland's 104-99 Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. After the game, he talked about his struggles during his time with the Knicks and the better situation he feels he's in with the Blazers, per Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com:
"I was on the worst team in the league, and I wasn't even playing because they thought I was too old to play. The situation and all the drama, it was so frustrating because all I wanted to do was go out there and just win. A couple of days ago, I looked in the mirror and said, 'Man, I'm blessed to be here with an amazing organization and amazing teammates that trust in me.' It definitely feels amazing, and it's definitely a blessing."
The feeling is mutual.
The Blazers went 6-2 down the stretch when Kanter was forced into starting duty after Jusuf Nurkic fractured his left leg and was lost for the year. And while Kanter's defense has been highlighted as a weakness in the past, his teammates and head coach Terry Stotts have appreciated his effort on that end of the court.
"I think it's unfortunate; a lot of times you get a reputation, and that reputation kind of sticks with you, whether you deserve it or not," Stotts said. "I think Enes has been really good for us defensively. He gives great effort."