As always, Enes Kanter was borderline hilarious with the media on Thursday afternoon, cracking jokes, smiling and generally being comfortable in front of a crowd.
But locker room clean-out day for the Jazz yielded a more serious side to Utah’s third-year center. He was clearly miffed at not receiving more playing time this season. He stated that the five younger guys on the roster should’ve played more frequently together, and made it clear that he wants that rectified next season.
“They told us it was a rebuilding year,” Kanter said. “If we are not winning a championship, why are the young guys not more together?”
His comments prelude a big summer for he and shooting guard Alec Burks. Both are heading into the fourth and final seasons of their respective rookie contracts. Both are eligible for extensions beginning in July.
And if that window of opportunity slides through with nothing accomplished, both will be heading into contract years in 2014 — just like Gordon Hayward was this past season.
“It’s definitely something we’ll explore,” Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. “Whether we get a deal done, I don’t know. But we’ll sit down and talk to both of their representatives when the time comes.”
Kanter and Burks are two of the bigger names on the roster. But their situations underscore the fact that Lindsey will have a lot of decisions to make on a lot of pending free agents on his team. Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush are all unrestricted. Hayward — much talked about — is a restricted free agent, which means the Jazz have the right to match any offer. A host of other players have non-guaranteed deals heading into next season.
The flexibility is there for this to be a significantly different roster in 2014. But Lindsey acknowledged that stability going forward is needed within the organization. All of which means, the team could be making decisions on Kanter and Burks in the coming months.
“I have a good agent and I’ll leave a lot of that stuff up to him,” Burks said. “I just want to go home and focus on being the best player and the best man that I can be.”
Burks turned a corner this season, averaging a career-high 14 points per game and establishing himself as one of the better scoring sixth men in the league. Kanter regressed a bit — especially defensively — but played well in the last six weeks of the year. Lindsey said Kanter had been slowed by his offseason shoulder surgery, but is counting on a big jump this summer.
Another roster makeover?
Unrestricted free agents
• Richard Jefferson
• Marvin Williams
• Brandon Rush
• Andris Biedrins
Restricted free agent
• Gordon Hayward
Eligible for extensions
• Enes Kanter
• Alec Burks
• Malcolm Thomas
• Ian Clark
• Diante Garrett
• John Lucas III