10. Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter held or tied career-highs in 2-point percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds per game, defensive rebounding percentage and defensive box plus-minus this season. And yet, I would be shocked if Kanter opts-out of his player option worth $18,622,513. While declining his option may give the Knicks some much desired breathing room financially, the market for defensively challenged centers is far from a hot commodity.
In a year that sees Derrick Favors, Thaddeus Young, Clint Capela, Nerlens Noel, Dewayne Dedmon, Jusuf Nurkic and DeAndre Jordan experiencing free agency in some capacity, and a limited amount of cap space available, few teams can offer Kanter a contract at a higher rate even if they wanted to.
The Knicks have hit the reset button after welcoming in Coach Fizdale a year after Scott Perry relieved Phil Jackson of his duties. Unless meetings with Fizdale went horrendously, it may be a fresh opportunity to be featured more by a coach with experience and success incorporating big men into an offense.
Adding insult to injury, the big men in this year’s draft are deeper than in recent years — particularly at the top where teams have cap space — and provide younger and cheaper options to fill the same position.
If Kanter elects to opt-in, the free agency pool the following year highlights aging big men. Additionally, the draft lacks the depth that would give a team an opportunity to replace a player like Kanter in a cheaper way. Although cap space will still be tight in the 2019 offseason, teams will be in the fourth year of the new TV revenue deal. As a result, some of those massive contracts will be expiring, providing slightly more mobility for Kanter to earn as much money as possible.