Enes Kanter, Celtics Agree to Contract After Al Horford Joins 76ers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2019

Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter (00) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 5, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 119-110. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics bolstered their frontcourt with a double-double threat when they signed big man Enes Kanter on Monday.  

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the deal, with Ian Begley of SNY noting it's a two-year agreement worth $10 million, with a player option in the second season.

Kanter later spoke to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, explaining why he decided against a return to the Portland Trail Blazers:

In response, Damian Lillard downplayed the notion Kanter was given six minutes to decide in a post on his Twitter account:

In the wake of the deal, Kevin Smith of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Celtics "will look to add another big via the Minimum Exception." Smith also noted Boston is interested in re-signing Daniel Theis, who is a restricted free agent.

Kanter will join the fifth team of his career with this move. He entered the league in 2011 as the No. 3 overall pick to the Utah Jazz, who traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2014-15 season. OKC then matched the Trail Blazers' four-year offer sheet during his restricted free agency in 2015, although he was traded to the New York Knicks before the 2017-18 season.

New York waived him in February, and he signed with Portland for the stretch run and playoffs.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com noted he chose the Trail Blazers over a number of teams, including LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers, after the Knicks were unable to trade his expensive $18.6 million expiring contract.

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It turned out to be the correct move, as he became Portland's primary big man after it lost Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending injury.

The Blazers went 18-5 in the 23 regular-season games Kanter played and elevated themselves all the way to the Western Conference's No. 3 seed. He averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds a night in those contests while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.

The Kentucky product also played a critical role in the playoffs, helping lead the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals while dealing with the likes of Steven Adams and Nikola Jokic, among other frontcourt players.

Defensive concerns have plagued Kanter throughout his career—opponents shot 4.0 percent better than their normal averages when he defended them in 2018-19, per NBA.com—but the 6'11", 250-pound Turk has still scored in double figures in six straight seasons and is an impressive rebounder who averaged 11.0 boards per game in 2017-18 and 9.8 last season.

Kanter is also just 27 years old with extensive playoff experience and is someone who can serve as a veteran leader and offensive spark for his new team.

Following a second-round exit, the Celtics entered this offseason looking to remain among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. 

It was not the smoothest start to the summer, though, as both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford declined their player options for 2019-20 in June. While the team expressed interest in re-signing both players, each left via free agency.

Kanter may not be on Horford's level overall, but he is more than capable of contributing, whether it be starting or coming off the bench.