Sources are reporting that the Portland Trail Blazers are preparing to make an offer to Oklahoma City Thunder restricted free agent Enes Kanter.
OKC restricted free agent Enes Kanter signing a four-year, $70M maximum contract offer sheet with Blazers, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2015
OKC's Enes Kanter is in Portland, preparing to sign an offer sheet with Blazers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2015
With lots of cap room post-LaMarcus, Blazers putting an offer sheet on Thunder RFA center Enes Kanter, per sources.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 9, 2015
Since Kanter is a restricted free agent the Thunder would have the right to match whatever offer the Blazers make, retaining his services in the process.
The 6'11" center holds career averages of 10.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg on 51.1% shooting, 35.4% from the three-point arc. He's 23 years old and was the 3rd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft , selected by the Utah Jazz, for whom he played 3.5 seasons before being traded to the Thunder. Oklahoma City gave up point guard Reggie Jackson, center Kendrick Perkins and a 2017 first-round pick in the 3-way deal that secured Kanter.
Thunder GM Sam Presti says OKC will match:
Was able to catch up with Sam Presti. His comment on the reported Enes Kanter offer sheet: pic.twitter.com/bNjcjKGoJh— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 9, 2015
Perspective from Around the League:
OKC will likely match, + then look to deal Novak/Augustin/PJII for $0. But POR is forcing their hand. Lots of teams were rooting for this.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 9, 2015
If #Blazers sign Enes Kanter to offer sheet, OKC has 3 days to match. Money on Blazers' cap during that time, but they can afford it.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) July 9, 2015
Kanter is 1st offer-sheeting signing this year. 12 RFAs have signed (or agreed to sign) w/ old teams. Only O'Quinn (S&T) has changed teams.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) July 9, 2015
Of note: Portland signed Roy Hibbert to a massive offer sheet back in 2012 to force Indiana's hand. The Blazers don't mess around.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) July 9, 2015
(LOL at Neil Olshey and Paul Allen being the NBA's version of griefers.)
Portland probably has a pretty good idea what OKC has been willing to pay Enes Kanter, so expect a big/creative offer sheet from the Blazers— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 9, 2015
Let's understand Portland's position in this offer, folks.
National Twitter is going crazy with the dollar amount:
The NBA has reached the point where Enes Kanter is receiving a max deal. Why not just give everyone a max deal and go from there?— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 9, 2015
Oh god that’s so much money for Kanter. https://t.co/RlIqXTK58n— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 9, 2015
First, Oklahoma City is almost certainly going to match. As Blazers fans know well, giving up assets for a guy who plays 25 games for you is not ideal. The Thunder didn't just give up a pick, but a significant trade chip in Reggie Jackson. The Blazers are trying to force them into luxury tax territory, to limit their maneuverability on the open market, to force them to give up talent in order to keep their prize guys.
You also have to understand that the Blazers are $21 million below the minimum salary cap level for this season. If they don't spend that money it gets redistributed to the players on their roster. They don't get to keep it. The choice is to spend that $21 million on free agents or spend it on nothing.
Plus the Blazers have no huge free agent signings yet and the remaining unrestricted free agents aren't good enough to make a difference. You could have 3 mediocre guys or one guy you like. (Whether the Blazers should like Kanter is up for debate, but obviously they do.)
The real cost here would be cap space in the 2nd-4th years of the deal, when Portland would have another opportunity to snag free agents. But the cap is supposedly rising another $17+ million next season anyway. Portland would still have room with Kanter on board. More to the point, everybody else will too. If they can't make a run at unrestricted free agents now, how are they going to do it when 20 teams have cap space to match? It wouldn't matter if Portland had twice as much. You can only spend so much on a single free agent. What good to have room for 2 max-level signings when you can't even net 1 max-level free agent?
For all these reasons, this offer makes more sense to the Trail Blazers than it does to most teams.