NEW YORK – Center Enes Kanter kissed the Knicks logo on Madison Square Garden Square as he checked the game on Wednesday night. A gesture he later said had been made to thank the fans for their support during his recent session.
"I just wanted to show my love," said Kanter, who had not played in the Knicks' last four games. "Obviously I've had a difficult time on the pitch and off-field in the last three weeks with problems with the Turks and the basketball, and the support they showed me a lot, I wanted to give something back kiss to them."
Kanter entered the game in the middle of the third quarter after a loud contingent of fans "We want Kanter" had sung double digits with New York.
He waved to the crowd while boarding his first attempt.
"It was so much pressure," Kanter said. "I just wanted to go out and show the fans some love, of course I did not play, how many games, so I was nervous."
Earlier this month, Knicks coach David Fizdale told Kanter that the team would play young centers. Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet were in front of him. Kanter has been vocal about his frustration since the demotion, pointing out the possibility that he might be traded or bought by New York in the near future.
"I've been planning that for a long time, I was just waiting to get back in," said Kanter, who ended up with 5 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in 9 minutes to beat 114-90 against Dallas. "You never know how long I'm going to play here, I was so happy that I came in just to show some love to the fans, maybe, I do not know, one last time, I have no idea."  Fizdale said his team's poor performance – and not the songs of the fans – prompted him to turn to Kanter.
"This is a fan who likes to do what he wants, they can chant anything they want But at the time … we just did not play very good basketball," said Fizdale. "In all fairness for him, I told him face to face that I would do that, on every occasion I'll pocket him there and try to help the team, I'll do it." So this [Wednesday night] was Opportunity. "
Teams had spoken with New York about potential deals for the center before the close-out on February 7, sources said. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN earlier this month reported that the Sacramento Kings and Knicks had spoken of trading with Kanter and Zach Randolph as an exchange of expiring contracts.
New York does not want to take back the salary in a Kanter trade. If the Knicks fail to find a trade that suits them, the club and Kanter could agree on a buyout that would allow Kanter to sign with the team of his choice.
Kanter is in the final year of his contract, making $ 18.6 million this season.
The 26-year-old made it clear again on Wednesday that he would rather stay in the team if he were in the rotation.
"If they know the love of New York, I have in My Heart, they would withdraw my jersey," said Kanter about the fans. "I have no problems with this organization, I have no problems with these players, teammates, coaches or the city, and from the first day I loved the city."
The Knicks (10-40) have lost eleven consecutive points games. They last won at home on December 1, a series of 12 home games in a row.