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Enes Kanter's Standoff With The Knicks Now Has Him Getting Heckled By His Own Teammate

Photo: John Amis (AP)

After 113 games with the Knicks, 94 of them in the starting lineup, Enes Kanter was hit with his first DNP Wednesday night. That 114-110 loss to the Rockets had plenty to gawk at, including David Fizdale’s “fuck this, what the fuck are you doing” ejection, James Harden’s unassisted 61 points, P.J Tucker’s sudden basketball allergy, and Allonzo Trier’s fan inquisition. But the best might be this very intimate anecdote that the Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov contributed to the chamber pot:

As the Knicks were playing the Rockets close in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, Enes Kanter sat on the bench alone, away from an ongoing huddle during a timeout [...] While the Knicks assembled, Kanter never left his seat. He listened as assistant trainer Anthony Goenaga talked to him, gesticulating, then moved over as Mario Hezonja sat down next to him. Hezonja had not played yet, and would not play, either. He put an arm around Kanter and delivered a message.

“Get the fuck up,” Hezonja said. “And cheer.”

By my count that’s nearly Hezonja’s career highlight in New York, a runner-up to that one baffling Giannis posterization. His teammate Kanter has been unhappy with his diminished role for a while now. Just like he did in Utah, he has made that unhappiness a highly public concern. The 10-36 Knicks are tanking hard for a Dookie, and Kanter will be a free agent this summer with no recognizable spot in their future, so he’s understandably trying to find somewhere to get some run. He’s no longer pulling any punches with post-game dispatches like:

“I want to play basketball,” Kanter said. “If you’re going to play me here, play me. Or if not, then just get me out of here.”

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and:

“My job right now is to cheer for my teammates and try to be a good teammate,” he said. “But what they’re doing to me is pretty messed up. I deserve way better.”

It’s not at all clear where the Knicks could ship the dejected double-double machine. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that New York and Chicago were trying to piece together a white elephant deal to swap Enes Kanter and Jabari Parker, but they struggled to find a third team willing to take on the $18.6 million Kanter is making this year. In the meantime, he’ll just have to keep stewing, and hopefully he doesn’t let any future burger gauntlets sink his trade value.

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