The Knicks had talked to teams about potential trades for the past several weeks, but Kanter’s $18.6 million expiring contract proved too difficult to move at Thursday’s deadline.
“From the moment he arrived in New York, Enes passionately embraced our franchise and our city,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. “He is a courageous individual and we thank him for his many contributions both on the court and in the community. We wish him the absolute best moving forward, personally and professionally.”
Kanter issued his own statement on Twitter, saying he wishes “nothing but the best” for the Knicks moving forward.
“Each day I spend in the NBA is a blessing and I look forward to my next adventure,” Kanter posted. “… As grateful as I am [to the Knicks], I am also excited to continue playing basketball and showcasing that I can be one of the most dominant forces in the paint. New York will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to returning here and playing in front of these amazing fans again.”
Kanter, 26, had appeared in just three of the Knicks’ past 12 games and had been vocal about his displeasure over his reduced role.
Coach David Fizdale has prioritized playing and developing younger players in recent weeks. DeAndre Jordan has started ahead of Kanter, and Fizdale said he wanted Jordan to help younger players Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson learn how to defend.
Kanter has averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds — tied for 12th in the league — in 25.6 minutes per game this season, but he ranked last out of 68 qualified centers in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus metric. He is tied for third in the NBA in offensive rebounding (3.9 per game) since the start of the 2017-18 season.
The Knicks (10-43) acquired Kanter in a 2017 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.