Utah Jazz plan to hang on to Kanter, barring an amazing offer

First Published      Last Updated Feb 19 2015 04:26 pm

NBA » Sources say Utah hopes to smooth over issues that led to center’s trade demand.

New York • Enes Kanter and his agent very publicly asked the Jazz last week to trade the young center by Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

However, the Jazz are unlikely to bend to Kanter's demand.

The Salt Lake Tribune has learned, via NBA sources, that while the team will listen to offers, Kanter is still valued highly by the franchise and very much in its long-term plans.

Following last Wednesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks — a game in which he suffered a first-half injury and sat out the rest of the way — a frustrated Kanter told The Tribune he hoped to be dealt by the deadline. The next day, Kanter's agent, Max Ergul, confirmed the trade request in an interview with 1280 AM.

Kanter has been a full-time starter this season for the first time in his career. But he has seen a steady reduction in his minutes as of late, coinciding with Rudy Gobert's emergence as a defensive force at the center spot.

Kanter is putting up career-best numbers, averaging 13.8 points 7.8 rebounds per game, and has shown signs of becoming a consistent scorer in the post.

Yet, Kanter still struggles at the defensive end and sometimes struggles to pass the ball within the flow of the offense. He has just 26 assists this season — less than one per game in an offense where the big men are expected to handle the ball a lot.

That said, the Jazz are relatively happy with Kanter's overall progress, and team officials are confident they can smooth over their center's bruised feelings, according to an NBA source.

The Jazz have not publicly reacted to their center's trade request. The source said that while the team is aggressively surveying the market and fielding calls, it will take a pretty amazing offer to even think about parting with Kanter — who becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Jazz also don't expect to have any issues with Kanter if, as expected, he remains with the team for the rest of the season. Kanter is generally well liked in the locker room.

The Jazz like their big man rotation of Kanter, Gobert and Derrick Favors, along with Trevor Booker. But it has become increasingly difficult for Snyder to find minutes for all four players. Still, the rotation works because Snyder is able to go with the hot hand on a nightly basis, and the frontcourt depth allows the coach to hold his big men accountable on both ends of the floor.

Assuming Kanter remains in a Jazz uniform, the team is expected to dole out a qualifying offer this summer. The Jazz will have the ability to match any offer Kanter gets on the free agent market, as they did with Gordon Hayward last season.

The Jazz plan, in other words, remains in effect. General manager Dennis Lindsey has spent the past few seasons accumulating assets, stockpiling young players and molding a core. The Jazz are just 19-34 at the All-Star break, but are steadily improving and could be poised for strong finish.

Gordon Hayward is now playing at a near All-Star level. Favors has made huge offensive strides and Gobert has become a defensive anchor.

The Jazz believe they are in good position, both financially and on the floor. They know this summer will bring them another piece in the form of a lottery pick in what should be a deep, talented draft.

Injuries have been an issue. Alec Burks is out for the season after shoulder surgery, Joe Ingles has missed the last few games with a bulky back and rookie Rodney Hood has battled plantar fasciitis for most of the season.

But Hood is nearly healthy, and has been cleared to return to practice. Ingles is also nearing a return. If Hood regains his full health, he could ascend into the starting lineup during the second half of the season. The Jazz want to see if he's capable of playing major minutes.


twitter: @tjonessltrib



Trade request

Enes Kanter told The Tribune last week that he wanted the Jazz to trade him by the NBA’s trade deadline (Thursday, 1 p.m. MST). Kanter is starting this season for the first time in his career. He’s averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

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