PORTLAND, Ore. — Starting center Enes Kanter will reel off a list of reasons why he wants to stay with the Knicks next season.
But the Turkish big man won’t say whether it’s 100 percent definite. Not until he hires a new agent.
Kanter has one year left on his contract and is set to be paid $18.6 million next season.
Amid a glossy season in which he already netted a career-high 32 double-doubles after finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Knicks’ 111-87 loss to the Trail Blazers, it is no longer laughable for Kanter to consider opting out and seeking a long-term deal. He’s one of the best offensive rebounders in the league.
Nevertheless, a ton of analysis must go into his decision, including the notion most teams don’t have cap room this summer. Kanter, 25, admits he needs an agent to sort things out, and investigate potential interest. Kanter, who has used a Turkish agent in the past, has plenty of time to decide.
“Right now we have 18 games left,’’ Kanter said at Tuesday morning’s shoot-around at Moda Center. “If I talk and think about my options and opt-out, contract and money, I’d be a little selfish. My thing now is finish the 18 games as best we can, then start thinking about it.’’
The Knicks expect Kanter to play out his final season because he has embraced New York with his engaging personality.
“I like the culture, the fans, the city, the atmosphere,’’ Kanter said. “Like Madison Square Garden, the people, the organization, the writers. Do you want me to continue?’’
Averaging 14.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and shooting 60 percent, the marquee pickup in the Carmelo Anthony deal won the starting center’s role in training camp. He can finish the season averaging a double-double for the first time.
“I don’t follow my stats because I don‘t want to worry about that,’’ Kanter said. “I don’t look at it until the end of the season. I heard about it, but the team hasn’t won so it really doesn’t matter. You can always do better and add to the team. But it is one of my best seasons.’’
Though he has been a media darling, Kanter isn’t necessarily a vocal leader in the locker room and his lack of quickness on defense has prompted coach Jeff Hornacek to peg backup Kyle O’Quinn for a lot of crunch-time minutes.
“Enes is not a big talker,’’ Hornacek said. “He’s the example guy and goes out there and plays hard as he can. I love when he gets in, posts and knocks someone around and gives us the muscles. Guys get a kick out of it. He tries to do it by example. We need him to talk more [on the court]. He’s a center and got to be involved in a lot of things. He’s getting better.’’
Getting motivated to play out the string is no issue for the 25-year-old who has warred with political leaders in his native country.
“Doesn’t matter what the record is,’’ Kanter said. “The team is paying you. You got to go out there and earn that money. Everyone’s watching you. It’s important to play hard because you’re carrying the New York name on your jersey. You have to play for that.’’