Enes Kanter (born May 20, 1992) is a Turkish professional basketball player for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Standing at 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m), he plays at the center position.
Before moving to the United States, Kanter played under Serdar Apaydın's management for the Fenerbahçe youth squad between 2006 and 2008 and then, during the 2008–09 season, Kanter was a seldom-used reserve for the Fenerbahçe senior team. He played in at least nine games with the team – four in the EuroLeague and five in the Turkish Super League. Fenerbahçe and the Greek League basketball team Olympiacos both offered Kanter professional contracts, but he declined because he wanted to play high school and college basketball in the United States.
In 2009, Kanter moved to the United States, where he enrolled at Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, California, and played for the basketball team in 2009–10. At the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, Kanter played for the international team, recording 34 points and 13 rebounds. His point total was a record for the event, breaking Dirk Nowitzki's record set in the 1998 game. Both Rivals.com and Scout.com rated Kanter as a five-star prospect, the highest possible rating.
On November 23, 2009, Kanter verbally committed to play for the Washington Huskies. Kanter chose Washington over UCLA, USC, Indiana and UNLV. However, he re-opened his recruitment in February 2010, and on April 14, Kanter signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for Kentucky.
However, despite signing with the Kentucky Wildcats, the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible as a collegiate athlete because he received approximately $33,000 from Fenerbahçe in excess benefits. The NCAA ruled that this amount was above and beyond what was considered acceptable. On January 7, 2011, the NCAA rejected Kentucky's appeal, upholding that Kanter was permanently ineligible. Without Kanter, Kentucky still managed to reach the Final Four in the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
Utah Jazz (2011–2015)
Kanter was drafted third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2011 NBA draft. Upon being drafted, he said "I'm so happy, I'm so excited. I know the Utah Jazz fans are crazy and I love them. I will bring the team toughness and post moves, rebounding, everything. I will try to do everything to make the playoffs." On December 9, 2011, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Jazz following the conclusion of the NBA lockout. In 2011–12, he became just the 10th Jazz rookie in franchise history to appear in every regular season game. He also recorded the most rebounds for a Jazz rookie on debut with 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 27. On the season, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 66 games.
In 2012–13, Kanter improved his averages in every major statistical category, led the team in scoring three times and rebounding four times, and scored in double-figures 22 times. In 70 games (two starts), he averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. On March 1, 2013, Kanter had the first 20-20 game of his career with career-highs of 23 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Jazz to a 98–68 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He later missed the final 10 games of the season due to a dislocated left shoulder.
In 2013–14, Kanter appeared in 80 games (37 starts), averaging 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. On March 3, 2014, he scored a then career-high 27 points in a 114–88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Oklahoma City Thunder (2015–2017)
On February 19, 2015, Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a three-team deal that also involved the Detroit Pistons. Two days later, he made his debut for the Thunder, recording a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in a 110–103 win over the Charlotte Hornets. On April 1, 2015, he scored a then career-high 30 points in a 135–131 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
After the 2014–15 season, Kanter became a restricted free agent. On July 9, 2015, he received a four-year, $70 million offer sheet from the Portland Trail Blazers. However, three days later, the Thunder exercised their right of first refusal and matched the offer sheet extended to Kanter by the Trail Blazers. On March 14, 2016, he scored a then season-high 26 points in a 128–94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. On April 6, he recorded a career-high 33 points and 20 rebounds in a 120–115 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, becoming the first player in Thunder history to score at least 30 points and grab 20 rebounds in a game. In Game 3 of the Thunder's first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Kanter recorded a playoff career-high 21 points and a game-high eight rebounds in a 131–102 win, claiming a 2–1 series lead. In Game 4 of the series, Kanter helped the Thunder go up 3–1 with 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting, setting a playoff career high for the second straight game.
On November 28, 2016, Kanter recorded a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 112–103 win over the New York Knicks. On January 26, 2017, he sustained a fractured forearm after punching a chair on the Thunder's bench during their game against the Dallas Mavericks. He was subsequently ruled out for six to eight weeks. He returned to action on February 24, 2017 against the Los Angeles Lakers after missing nine games. He finished with four points on 2-for-12 shooting.
New York Knicks (2017–present)
On September 25, 2017, Kanter was traded, along with Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick, to the New York Knicks in exchange for Carmelo Anthony. In his debut for the Knicks in their season opener on October 19, 2017, Kanter had 10 points and seven rebounds in a 105–84 loss to his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Five days later, he recorded 16 points and 19 rebounds in a 110–89 loss to the Boston Celtics. On November 29, 2017, after missing three games with back spasms, Kanter had 22 points and 14 rebounds in a 115–86 win over the Miami Heat.
National team career
Kanter made his debut for the Turkish national basketball team at the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship in Italy. He dominated throughout the tournament, averaging 22.9 points, 16.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 34.6 minutes per game. However, Jonas Valančiūnas was chosen as the MVP after he averaged 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.5 minutes. Kanter went on to earn MVP honors at the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship after averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds while leading Turkey's junior national team to the bronze medal. He declined to play for the senior national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship which was being held in Turkey as the team went on to win the silver medal. His father claimed he did this in order not to miss the first month of classes at Kentucky.
Kanter played with the Turkish senior team for the first time at the 2011 EuroBasket. He appeared in eight games and averaged 9.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Kanter was left off the team's roster for EuroBasket 2015. Kanter alleged that the omission was due to his relationship with Fethullah Gülen and his support of the Gülen movement while coach Ergin Ataman said that Kanter was excluded because "he did not apologize to teammates for past incidents."
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
Kanter was born in Switzerland to Turkish parents who later returned to their homeland. Since immigrating to the United States, Kanter has become a supporter of the Hizmet Movement of Fethullah Gülen, a "persona non grata" in Turkey. After the failed 2016 coup d'état attempt, Kanter heavily criticised Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter, leading to the cancellation of his account in Turkey. Soon after the coup attempt in July, his father and his family publicly disowned him due to his political views and his support for Gülen, imploring him to change his surname, on August 8. Kanter stated that he loves Gülen "more than his family", informally changing his name to Enes Gülen. Nevertheless, his father was still dismissed from his university position a few weeks later, via the government decree numbered 272 on September 1, as part of 2016–17 Turkish purges.
On May 20, 2017, Kanter's passport was cancelled by the Turkish embassy, purportedly due to his political views. Due to this, he was temporarily stranded in Romania, but later allowed to fly to London. Six days after the cancellation of his passport, the Turkish government issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a "terror group". Turkey said that charged citizens who fail come to Turkey during September of 2017 face revocation of citizenship; in September 2017, Kanter described himself as stateless. According to Sports Illustrated, "Although Kanter might dismiss the Turkish arrest warrant as toothless, he faces the more impactful problem of being a man without a country."
Kanter's younger brother, Kerem, played for the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay from 2014 to 2017. After graduating from UW–Green Bay in 2017, he transferred to Xavier University of Cincinnati under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule.