They have plenty in common, Enes Kanter and Omer Asik.
Both men from Turkey and standing close to 7 feet tall, they have played with and against each other since Kanter was 16 — in national play, Euroleague and now the NBA.
"I say hi to him," Kanter said Monday before his Utah Jazz faced off with Asik’s Houston Rockets. "But on the court, there’s no friends."
The two centers find themselves again in a similar situation: out of the starting lineup.
Both Jazz coach Ty Corbin and Rockets coach Kevin McHale have made the decision early in this season to break up their twin-tower starting lineups, letting Derrick Favors and Dwight Howard start their games with Kanter and Asik watching from the bench.
The difference so far?
Kanter seems to be OK with it.
"Whatever Coach gives me," he said. "Come from the bench or the starting five, it doesn’t matter. In the end you still play for the Jazz."
Asik, however, has expressed his displeasure, reportedly asking for a trade out of Houston. The center has not publicly expressed his displeasure of late, but trade talks seem certain to swirl until he is dealt or until the trade deadline passes.
Kanter has played twice since missing a game last week against Chicago, but his sprained right ankle is not yet completely healed.
"It still hurts a little bit, but it’s getting better," he said.
Big week ahead
Monday’s game against high-powered Houston was just the start of a brutal week for the Jazz. After taking on the Rockets, Utah will host the first-place Pacers and then travel to Portland, the Western Conference’s No. 1 team, Friday for the first half of a back-to-back.
"It doesn’t get any easier," Gordon Hayward said. "It’s the NBA. It’s the best league in the world. We’ve got to look at it as a challenge and try to go out there and have some fun."
But with all that going on, Marvin Williams’ focus is singular.
"I don’t even know, to be honest, who’s coming in," the Jazz veteran said when asked about the tough schedule. "We’ll worry about tonight tonight and look forward to the next team tomorrow."
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