Thunder match Trail Blazers' $70 million offer sheet to Enes Kanter

ByRoyce Young ESPN logo
Monday, July 13, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder have matched the Portland Trail Blazers ' offer sheet for Enes Kanter.

Kanter signed a maximum-level four-year deal with a player option on the fourth year with the Blazers on Thursday worth $70 million. With Kanter being a restricted free agent, the Thunder had three days to match the offer. They took all three.

"We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come, and we are excited that he will continue with us," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. "He adds valuable depth to our roster, diversity to our frontcourt and the dimension that he brings offensively will positively impact our team."

Kanter's contract includes a trade kicker, which would force the Thunder to pay up to 15 percent of his remaining salary if traded within his new deal.

Adding Kanter to the roster puts the Thunder almost $28 million over the 2015-16 salary cap and more than $13 million over the luxury-tax threshold.

If they don't make any other moves, the Thunder would have roughly a $24 million luxury-tax payment due at the end of next season.

The Thunder are likely to shop forwards Steve Novak and Perry Jones IIIto help alleviate some of the pending financial hit, according to league sources.

Kanter became an interior force for Oklahoma City after being acquired at the trade deadline from the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal, particularly because of his immediate pick-and-roll chemistry with point guard Russell Westbrook.

Before Kanter arrived, no Thunder center in the Oklahoma City era ever had recorded a 20-point, 10-rebound game. In 26 games with the Thunder, Kanter had 11.

Presti had been very direct in saying he wanted to re-sign Kanter, a restricted free agent.

"We wouldn't have traded for him if we didn't feel like we're going to be in a position to have him with us going forward," Presti said in April.

The 6-foot-11 Turkish center compiled 17 double-doubles with OKC, averaging 18.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. However, he only played 10 games with Serge Ibaka and none with Kevin Durant because of injuries.

Kanter was selected third overall by the Jazz in 2011, but never found much footing in Utah, getting caught in a frontcourt logjam. It led to Kanter requesting a trade in January and then making strong negative comments about his time with the Jazz.

Kanter, 23, holds career averages of 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in three seasons.

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