The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a four-year, $70 million offer sheet to the Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who is looking to cash in on his first big payday. The Thunder, according to reports, are likely to match the deal for the restricted free agent. The way negotiations work however, Kanter will likely have final input. If he wants to stay in OKC, the Thunder will match the offer. If he doesn't want to stay, Sam Presti would let him leave. Regardless of the outcome, Kanter will receive his max contract. Before the final announcement comes out today, we ask the question: which team does Kanter really want to play for?
Kanter should want to stay in Oklahoma City
The Turkish is going to continue his exclamation mark on the offensive end with a fully healthy Thunder squad.
Kanter has emerged as an instant weapon after he arrived at an undermanned OKC last February. He averaged 18.7 points, 11.0 rebounds in his 26 games with the Thunder.
His offensive aggressiveness and skills will add more value to a healthy Thunder that features Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook next season. Kanter has already proven to be a more effective pick and roll big man than the Thunder have ever had before. He has the full arsenal for a big man; he can roll to the rim on either side of the lane, and he can fade into open areas for jump shots. Kanter's presence injects a shot of consistency and efficiency in the Thunder offense that has for many years been top-heavy.
Under new coach Billy Donovan's system, Kanter also has a chance to change the perception of him as an offensive specialist who doesn't care about defense. We don't need to rehash all the details, but Kanter's defense can only improve at this point. Last season, Kanter allowed his opponents to shoot 61.2 percent from within six and 49.8 percent overall, per NBA.com. Kanter will likely never be a great defender, but with the new coaching philosophy in town, he has a chance to become much more than he has ever been before, and at a time when being a two way player is of great value.
Meanwhile, a shattered Portland team has lost four of its original five starters in the past three weeks. It will face a handful challenges o adapt the new Blazers as the new season begins. Rebuilding is filled with uncertainty, whereas OKC has got a steady roster that ready to showcase its chemistry right after the starting whistle of the regular season.
All Kanter has to do is want to stay with a winner.
Kanter should head to Portland
While OKC is an annual contender, Portland can potentially offer more to Kanter in terms of his role with the team as well as long term viability
In Oklahoma City, Kanter would be likely limited to a supporting role. However, Portland offers a blank canvas. Now that LaMarcus Aldridge is in San Antonio, a Blazer team that has always valued big men would turn to Kanter to continue that tradition. Working with Damian Lillard, Kanter would continue to play at an elite offensive level.
Furthermore, the Blazers will not be expected to contend for a few seasons. If Kanter can solidify himself as one of the true elite big men in the game, by the time Portland returns to the playoffs, he will have set himself up for long term financial success in a new era of the NBA, not simply over the next 2-3 seasons.
That difference can bring financial impact for Kanter in the long term. The NBA's new TV contract will kick in at the end of the 2015-16 season. It will open up as much as $20 million for the cap space. If Kanter wants another big contract at the age of 27, he'd better be Blazer rather than staying in his original system.
Which team do you think Kanter wants to play for? Comment below!
An introduction for my inaugural post: I am a Syracuse University alumunus, I am a sports junkie and cultural enthusiast. I am an aspiring journalist who love listening to stories and writing about them.