Enes Kanter
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Knicks fans should enjoy Enes Kanter because he may not be around for the same reason during the NBA season of 2019-20.

Josh Benjamin

The New York Knicks don’t deserve Enes Kanter.

Whoa! Sorry, hot take right out of the gate there, so let me further explain. The New York Knicks do deserve Kanter, but it’s hard to understand why.

Look at it this way. For years, particularly following the Patrick Ewing trade, the Knicks struggled to find a dominant big man to fill the void.

Save for Tyson Chandler winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, plus a few prime years of Marcus Camby, the Knicks finding a good center was like searching for the lost city of El Dorado. The list of guys who have manned the position since the Ewing trade reads a roster of the Island of Misfit Toys.

Seriously, folks. Just listen to some of these names. Kelvin Cato (Ew). Nazr Mohammed (OK, please stop). Eddy Curry (UGH). The list goes on.

Now things are different. Since coming to New York from Oklahoma City in the Carmelo Anthony trade, Kanter has reminded fans of the old times. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in the paint, is a solid rebounder, and genuinely seems to enjoy playing in New York.

He even exercised his $18.6 million option for this season instead of hitting the open market last summer, fully committing himself to the team despite 2018-19 being a rebuild year.

And as next summer’s stacked free agency class inches closer to the open market, the Knicks need to enjoy Kanter’s strong performance this year and seriously consider extending him. Otherwise, he could very well be gone next season and may take his excellent play at center with him.

A breath of fresh air

In all seriousness, Enes Kanter could not have joined the Knicks at a better time. New York had just suffered two years of the horrific mistake that was Joakim Noah, and Phil Jackson’s mess was getting cleaned up.

Thus, when Anthony was sent to the Thunder, it’s no wonder the main piece Oklahoma City sent to the Knicks was Kanter.

The team didn’t make the playoffs last season, but Kanter’s performance was inspiring. He averaged 14.1 points per game his first season in New York and matched a career high with 11 rebounds per contest.

This was the first time a Knick had averaged at least 11 boards per game since David Lee in 2009-10. That’s a long time to go without a next-level rebounder.

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