Enes Kanter has found a new home with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 26-year-old center, who has averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds game this season, fell out of the Knicks’ rotation last month and was released last week after the N.B.A. trade deadline. Kanter announced his move Wednesday on Twitter.
Kanter continued to put up big numbers for the Knicks even after he was relegated to a bench role. Though limited defensively, he has a knack for low-post scoring and rebounding that led to 25 double-doubles for the Knicks this season. The most remarkable of them was a performance off the bench in November in which he had 23 points, 24 rebounds and 7 assists in a loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Kanter joined the Knicks before the start of last season in the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City. He became a tabloid sensation because of his willingness to talk openly with reporters, and he occasionally ran afoul of opponents like LeBron James who considered his bark considerably worse than his bite.
Kante has also publicly addressed political issues in his native Turkey, and his criticism of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has left him something of a man without a country.
Kanter will add depth to a Portland team that currently holds the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. The Blazers, who already had Evan Turner and Seth Curry contributing off the bench, have added two prominent pieces, Kanter and Rodney Hood, a small forward acquired in a trade with Cleveland last week.
Kanter’s play did not decline appreciably this season, but with the Knicks committed to a youth movement — and to keeping their win total low in pursuit of the No. 1 pick in the draft — there was no place for a productive center whose contract was set to expire at the end of this season. After acquiring DeAndre Jordan to help with the development of the rookie center Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks were unable to find a taker for Kanter, so they released him.
Kanter had publicly complained about his treatment by the Knicks, but he wrote an open letter to fans after his release on Feb. 7, saying the team had always made him feel at home and that New York would always have “a special place in my heart.”
Knicks Coach David Fizdale, who did not play Kanter in six of his last eight games with the team, said last week that he thought the decision to part ways could be good for Kanter.
“I’m just hoping that he can land with a playoff team and get his feet wet into some winning,” Fizdale told reporters.
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