Enes Kanter, Steve Novak Trade A Move For The Future


Feb 9, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned by my esteemed colleague Clint Peterson, the Utah Jazz have dealt big man Enes Kanter to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a three-team trade that also involves the Detroit Pistons.

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  • Per the latest reports, the Jazz will receive Kendrick Perkins and Grant Jerrett from OKC, as well as future first and second round picks and the rights to international player Tibor Pleiss. Steve Novak will join Kanter with the Thunder, along with D.J. Augustin, and Kyle Singler. The Pistons will acquire Reggie Jackson in the deal.

    Kanter made waves last week when he voiced his desire to be traded to Jazz beat writers following a hard-fought loss to the Dallas Mavericks. On the year, Kanter is averaging just under 14 points and eight rebounds per game in 49 contests. Now, the forward/center will contend for minutes in a Thunder frontcourt rotation that includes Steven Adams, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka.

    Meanwhile, Perkins is in the final year of his contract and may or may not be in Utah’s future plans. The six-foot-ten, 270 pound center has seen his playing time decrease with OKC in recent seasons and will undoubtedly play behind Rudy Gobert should he remain with the team. A more likely scenario is that Perkins and the Jazz work on a buyout, allowing Perkins to seek a new team.

    Now the pressure is on for Rudy to plant his flag as one of the premiere defenders in the NBA. Despite playing only 22 minutes per game for the Jazz this season, Gobert currently ranks fourth in the league in blocked shots per contest.

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  • While the team must exercise caution in extending his minutes given the propensity of big men to suffer stress injuries as their knees and feet struggle to support their large frames, the absence of Kanter undoubtedly equates to a greater opportunity for Rudy to strut his stuff.

    In what has become a theme for Jazz trades recently, the team now finds itself with future assets and increased cap flexibility going forward. While the incoming picks don’t seem as enticing as the ones acquired, for example, from the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2013, they still represent assets and/or potential bargaining chips for the future.

    Moreover, with Kanter’s contract situation no longer hanging over them, the team is in a better position to retain other players on the roster, as well as attack free agency in a more aggressive manner. While the league’s salary cap is expected to rise sharply with increased television revenues, the Jazz would have encountered difficulty in retaining all of their promising young players if Kanter had still been in play.

    So while fans and prognosticators alike may be left scratching their heads, wondering how GM Dennis Lindsey could possibly let a former No. 3 overall pick go for Perkins, they need to consider the long game.

    It may not seem spectacular at the moment, but the Kanter trade is a move for the future of the Utah Jazz.

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