The Boston Celtics still need a center. Tyler Zeller has been a nice addition, but he's best suited as a backup big and not someone you build with.
It just so happens that a starting-caliber 22-year-old center is unhappy on his current team and wants out.
Frustrated by his role during his three-plus years in Utah, center Enes Kanter told The Salt Lake Tribune he hopes to be traded before this year's deadline.
Kanter expressed his frustration after Wednesday's 87-82 loss to the Mavericks, a game in which Kanter left with an eye injury and did not play in the fourth quarter despite his claim that he was healthy enough to play.
"It was not my eye at all. I don't know what it was, but it was not my eye at all. So we'll see what's going to happen," Kanter said after the game, declining to elaborate further.
Kanter is averaging 13.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg in 27.1 mpg for the Jazz. He's an 18-10 guy per 36 minutes.
The stat that stands out for Kanter is his dreadful 0.3 blocks per game. He's also not known for his defense. The defense can be improved, but a center that can't block shots is a bit of a problem.
Boston already lacks rim protection, so Kanter wouldn't do much to address that. Pairing him with either Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk would open up a layup line in the paint. The Celtics would likely have to move Sullinger or Olynyk in favor of another big that can block shots to make it work with Kanter.
Kanter wants a more defined role. He would have that in Boston, but Brandon Bass would have to be traded or bought out to free up more minutes for Kanter.
He's also a restricted free agent at the end of the season, which brings with it some uncertainty. Boston should have plenty of cap space to match any offers for Kanter, but if the price gets too high, Danny Ainge would likely let him walk. And if Kanter still isn't happy with his minutes in green, he could simply ask for a trade again or try to keep Boston from re-signing him.
So should Boston call up Utah? While he certainly has his warts, Kanter is still so young and has plenty of potential. Ainge should absolutely look into adding Kanter, but as is the case in all trades, the price matters. If we're talking a couple picks for Kanter and absorbing his salary using a Traded Player exception, then I'm all for it. Boston could also trade Olynyk, Evan Turner and a pick for Kanter, but this seems like a steep price for a guy who could walk this summer. It's not that Olynyk is better than Kanter, he's not, but he's under contract for two more seasons after this one and even Turner brings some certainty since he's under contract until after next season.
Bottom Line: Kanter would be an upgrade over Zeller, but shot blocking would still be a big issue for the Celtics. That's a problem that can be addressed down the road, but it's a problem nonetheless. Ainge should kick the tires on Kanter and if Utah wants too much he should hang up. There are plenty of bigs in the upcoming draft so there's no need to give away the farm for a guy that, while filling a position of need, doesn't address one of the team's biggest flaws.
Photo credit: USATSI
Stats via Basketball-Reference Eric Blaisdell 2/12/2015 09:00:00 PM Tweet Edit