Kanter: ‘Don’t understand’ why I’m not starting

Enes Kanter has been coming off the bench in the New York Knicks‘ past two games, and he didn’t sound too happy about his new role after Saturday’s 129-97 loss to the Utah Jazz.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “This is too early in the season to shut me down. My goal is to go out there and try to be an All-Star this year. That was my goal. But now, look at the situation. You can’t do anything about it. You’ve got to stay positive. Just got to stay positive.”

Kanter was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year center Luke Kornet earlier this week. He had started the Knicks’ previous 19 games.

Kanter expressed his frustration after the Knicks fell behind by as many as 46 points in their loss to the Jazz. He went scoreless in 17 minutes, missing all six shots in the game.

“It’s embarrassing,” Kanter said after New York lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games. “It doesn’t matter if we’re on the road or we’re at home. We’re down by like 40 or 50. It’s very embarrassing. I understand we want our young guys to get better. But it’s very painful to watch it. I try to stay positive and help the young guys get better, but like I said, I have no idea why they’re doing that.”

Kanter is a free agent this summer. The Knicks plan to have enough cap space to sign a top free agent in the coming offseason. To do that and bring Kanter back, they’d likely have to renounce the veteran center and re-sign him to a salary significantly lower than the $18.6 million he’s making this season.

“I just want to go out there and play basketball,” Kanter said. “I want to win. I don’t know why they’re shutting me down. I just want to go out there and win. It doesn’t matter starter or come off the bench. I think every players job to just go out there and fight every minute on the court. That’s what I want to do. Just want to go out there and just play basketball. So I don’t understand why they’re shutting me down.”

ESPN’s Ian Begley contributed to this report.

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