Enes Kanter: When Big Needs Outweigh Big Cost


It’s official. As previously expected, Enes Kanter is returning to Oklahoma City for the 2015-2016 NBA season.

As a restricted free agent, the Thunder big man signed a four year/$70 million offer sheet with the Portland Trailblazers late last week: the offer was matched by the Thunder organization earlier Sunday evening.

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By matching Portland’s offer, Oklahoma City is currently expected to be sitting $13 million above the the dreaded luxury tax. Granted, this is without any other player moves to relieve financial tension; therefore, that number might change prior to the season’s beginning.

The Enes Kanter conversation has been a passionate one among Thunder fans: positions on Kanter appeared to go unmoved this past week. Keep Kanter (or) Let Him Go! The inner linings of each position were heavy. From referencing the famous James Harden trade of 2012- to references of the “20 and 10” offensive machine- to the fan certainty of KD packing up his bags for DC if the match doesn’t happen, etc. Fan talk escalated quickly, even though general manager Sam Presti had communicated his intentions on keeping Enes Kanter since acquiring him at last season’s trade deadline.

The buzz. The debates. The escalation. None of it should have surrounded this particular Restricted Free Agent.

Because the message has been crystal clear in Oklahoma City for months. The big needs currently outweigh the big cost for this small market powerhouse. And that’s exactly why – although he may not be the man that fans want for this kind of money – he’s the one that Oklahoma City needs right now.

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I’ll admit that Enes Kanter has been defensively absent for the Thunder, but he still has both the time and the ceiling to grow on that aspect of the game. And now, his steep price tag will demand it. However, when you have other options on the defense side of things…a la Adams? A la Ibaka?…you’d be wise to appreciate the prize that you have locked in.

The prize in Kanter is that he’s the low-post scoring threat that Oklahoma City has been missing. As long as he continues to fill that role, a healthy Thunder roster has a legitimate opportunity to cash in on the league’s ultimate prize- Champion status.

If you’re mad about the amount of money that Oklahoma City is paying to retain Enes Kanter, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. (Keep in mind that Omer Asik just penned a five year/$60 million deal and he’s way past being a twenty three year old with a high ceiling.) With the salary cap on verge of soaring, the Kanter deal won’t be viewed as frivolous in the long-term; however, retaining Enes Kanter greatly rewards Oklahoma City in the short-term- and that’s exactly where the focus should be.

Oklahoma City has to make a deep run in this next postseason. Excuses will not be tolerated, for there is no forgiveness in the commanding Western Conference.

Oklahoma City cannot afford to fall short due to a tie-breaker again. With Kevin Durant slated to be an Unrestricted Free Agent this next off season, Presti has to go to great lengths to ensure that the city’s MVP stays put. Therefore, Enes Kanter’s offensive abilities can be viewed as a security deposit on the 2016 free agency chase… As they should be.

Placing this large of a bet on Enes Kanter was a gamble that the Oklahoma City Thunder had to make. Too much has been vested and too much is on the line. The time to go big is now.

Stay tuned.