Controversial Big Man a Buyout Option for Warriors: Analyst

Enes Kanter Freedom Kelly Olynyk Goran Dragic Heat-Celtics

Getty Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter is defended by Kelly Olynyk and Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat during a 2020 game.

The Golden State Warriors may have a full, 15-man roster of players that everyone likes, but that’s not to say the group doesn’t have its holes. Questions remain at the center spot, for example, despite the fact that James Wiseman is finally progressing toward a return.

After all, the former No. 2 overall pick hasn’t played a game since April of last year. Moreover, he was one of the club’s most negative players as a rookie in terms of on/off impact. There are also concerns about Draymond Green’s disc injury.

As such, there have been rumblings since the trade deadline passed that Bob Myers and Co. could look to the buyout market for another big.

One potential target, former Finals rival Tristan Thompson, looks to be off the board already. Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Thompson will sign with the Bulls once he clears waivers following his brief stint in Indiana. However, other pivot men — like Robin Lopez of the Magic — may be available.

Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley just floated a controversial center who’s already looking for a new home as a Warriors option.

B/R: Warriors Could Look to Acquire Freedom

NBA Player Enes Kanter Freedom Speaks to VOANational Basketball Association player Enes Kanter Freedom spoke to VOA's Mandarin service about former NBA star Yao Ming's invitation to him to visit China and how Yao later blocked him on Instagram. Freedom told VOA he has "no problems with going to China" or visiting the Chinese people and learning about Chinese culture. The NBA…2022-01-26T18:39:00Z

In his postmortem on the Warriors’ trade-deadline dealings (or, rather, the lack thereof), Buckley noted that the team still has no ability to start a center taller than 6-foot-9.

That may not be a problem during the regular season, but in the playoffs — where Golden State could run into the likes of Nikola Jokic, Deandre Ayton, Rudy Gobert, maybe even Joel Embiid if things go really well — it definitely could be.

To that end, he’s pitching Enes Kanter Freedom as a possible buyout target.

“Enes Freedom is already looking for work after being waived by the Houston Rockets,” wrote Buckely, “and he might be a target if Golden State can stomach his spotty pick-and-roll defense.”

Before getting sent to Houston last week, Freedom had appeared in 35 games for the Celtics, averaging 3.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per contest. At 29 years old, he should have a lot of tread left on his tires and he has averaged a double-double at multiple points throughout his career.

As Buckley said, though, his defense could be an issue.

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The Freedom Controversy

Freedom has been something of a lightning rod for controversy recently, speaking out on human rights offenses in China and taking fellow ballers to task for being complicit in the atrocities through their business dealings and endorsement deals.

However, sources tell’s Steve Bulpett that teams will likely be more concerned with his skills on the court than any political statements he’s making when considering him as a buyout target.

“I think people agree with almost of all of the positions he’s taken,” said one league exec. “I think this just comes down to basketball.”

Added another team’s GM, “I don’t know if anyone else signs him. Maybe not. I think from a basketball standpoint, it’s really questionable. I’m not sure if any of the other stuff will even come into play. I don’t think he won’t get a job because of anything he’s said or done. I think he just doesn’t guard, and the game is changing. He plays a lot older than he really is.”

In January, Freedom told CNN’s John Berman that he was “very angry, disappointed, and disgusted” after Warriors minority owner Chamath Palihapitiya said that “nobody cares” about the Uyghurs genocide in China.

Freedom’s advocacy has netted him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.


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