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Damian Lillard Helped Convince Enes Kanter to Sign With the Blazers

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Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports from Kanter’s first practice with the team.

Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers offered Enes Kanter a four-year, $70 million deal in 2015, and although the Oklahoma City Thunder matched the contract, he has eventually ended up in Portland to finish out the season nearly four years later. With the All-Star break winding down, Kanter participated in his first practice with the Blazers on Wednesday, where he opened up to the media about his decision to choose Portland over other suitors.

It turns out, Damian Lillard played a big part, as Joe Freeman of the Oregonian/OregonLive reports:

Kanter said he chose the Blazers over LeBron James and the Lakers — his other finalists — because of his connection to and history with the organization, and fit. The tipping point, Kanter said, came when Lillard texted to recruit him, after which he decided “this is the best place that I can be.”

Freeman also explained what Kanter’s debut practice looked like:

In their first workout since the All-Star break, the Blazers had what coach Terry Stotts called a “lively” and “active” practice that included a healthy amount of full-court scrimmaging. Afterward, Kanter went through a 30-minute crash course on the Blazers’ basic offensive sets, working with Gary Trent Jr., Anfernee Simons, Skal Labissiere and assistant coach Jim Moran in 5-on-0 drills.

The big man will immediately slot in at the backup center position, so educating him on the bench unit’s sets must be done swiftly.

Read the rest of Freeman’s article on Kanter’s emotional “return” to the Blazers.