Shame on Enes Kanter for losing his cool and punching a chair and breaking his arm.
Dumb move by a valuable player, and for his outburst, the Oklahoma City Thunder lose potentially the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for maybe two months. Currently, the Thunder stand sixth in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Having Kanter miss the next 15-30 games means the Thunder’s grip on the 6-seed for the playoffs is less than tenuous. Finishing seventh in the Western Conference means a first-round matchup with San Antonio. Finishing eighth brings a rematch with Golden State.
Instead of celebrating Russell Westbrook’s 45-point outburst, or OKC’s 109-98 victory Thursday night over the Dallas Mavericks, or previewing Sunday’s visit to Cleveland (where the champs are struggling but still are the champs), we question Kanter’s intelligence for striking an inanimate object.
(It’s hard to be too critical of Kanter. Who among us hasn’t lost our cool and lashed out in a competitive situation? Then again, who among us gets paid $17 million a year to average 15 points and seven rebounds per game for an NBA team?)
Kanter’s official diagnosis will come later, but he had surgery today and will be reevaluated in four weeks.
The real story now becomes how OKC moves forward.
“It’s tough, man,” said Westbrook, “especially to do it the way he did it. … But things happen. Now we’ve got to look forward and try to figure out some positive things and get him back healthy as soon as possible.”
Cameron Payne, the backup point guard, offered a little more insight.
“Everybody’s gotta step up,” Payne said. “Everybody on that second unit, and everybody on the team, period. We’ve all got something we’re good at.
“Now, everybody else has got to come and bring it every night, and what they do well, be great at it.”
We’ll have to wait and see what coach Billy Donovan thinks the solutions are. And frankly, as the season progresses, his ideas may evolve.
Does someone have to carry a bigger role on the second unit?
That seems like a good opportunity for Jerami Grant to increase his role in the low post.
Does one of the post players need more minutes?
That may have Joffrey Lauvergne written all over it, though the vote here would be to increase Nick Collison’s playing time. Collison has become the quintessential NBA veteran big man, and he knows exactly what to do. Collison may not win the Thunder very many games, but he’ll lose them exactly zero.
Does one of the backups need to produce more points in lieu of Kanter’s productivity?
Donovan surely remembers he has a potentially prolific scorer/shooter collecting dust in Anthony Morrow.
Payne is right. Everybody needs to step up. Grant should play a bigger role. Lauvergne should get more minutes. Collison should become a solution. And Morrow should be afforded more opportunities to score.
Even Westbrook himself may have to carry an even greater burden as OKC tries to replace Kanter’s points.
“I’m disappointed personally because I think Enes had been playing very good basketball,” Donovan said. “He kind of carved out a niche coming off the bench for us with that second unit. He was a guy that generated offense for us.
“I think trying to find maybe different things inside this team, we have to look at it as a coaching staff.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.