Enes Kanter is still perplexed by his erratic playing time and rejected Jeff Hornacek’s reason for gluing him to the bench during Monday’s victory over the Nets.
“I guess coach said I played a lot of minutes (the day before), so he thought that I was tired. But I was pretty good, and I didn’t really feel tired. It’s my job, I cannot be tired,” Kanter told the Daily News. “It’s my job so whenever he gives me minutes I just go out there and play hard. But I think he thought I was tired so, whatever. I just didn’t play. We won the game, we’re good. But if we lost, it would be a problem.”
Only three weeks ago Kanter could boast of his best NBA season and pushing for an All-Star appearance. But in the five games immediately following his 31-point, 22-rebound gem on Christmas, Kanter averaged fewer than 19 minutes per night.
Enes Kanter said what Jeff Hornacek is doing is ‘weird.’
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
His nine minutes Monday were a season-low, as Hornacek said he wanted to avoid tired legs on the second game of a back-to-back. That explanation didn’t sit well with Kanter, who has seen his playing time diminish in fourth quarters, especially. Likely unintentional, his response to the News on Monday ran contrary to Kristaps Porzingis’ repeated “I’m so tired” comments following the previous back-to-back game on Jan. 3.
“It feels weird. I’m ready. I don’t make any excuse and say, ‘Oh I’m tired,’” said Kanter, who logged 36 minutes in Sunday’s home OT loss to the Pelicans. “If he gives me a chance I’ll go out there and play my hardest. But like I said, he just said I played a lot of minutes (Sunday) so he’s just going to keep subbing guys out. But I wasn’t tired or anything during the game.”
Kanter had five points in nine minutes in the Knicks’ win over the Nets Monday.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
In a league where the traditional center has become greatly diminished, Hornacek has four of them on the roster eating up 40 percent of the team’s overall salary. Earlier this month, the coach explained that he plays Kyle O’Quinn over Kanter late in games when the circumstances call for stronger defense. When the opposition goes with a small lineup — as often is the case in fourth quarters — Hornacek has played Kristaps Porzingis at center.
Kanter hasn’t played at all in seven of the last 11 fourth quarters.
“I guess (Hornacek wants me) just going out there and playing hard, I guess. That’s what I’m doing,” Kanter said. “In the beginning of the year I’m doing it and I’m still doing it. So I don’t know why the minutes have changed. It’s weird, I guess. He has the answer, just ask him.”