Date posted: July 13, 2015
Turkish center Enes Kanter, known for his previous success in the American National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) jersey, has agreed to sign a four-year, $70-million offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 23-year-old basketball sensation, who finished the last season with averages of 15.5 points and 8.9 rebounds, is signing the deal with the Blazers, but the OKC will have an opportunity to match it since he is a restricted free agent.
Kanter joined the Oklahoma City Thunder in February after almost four years at the Utah Jazz. The center holds career averages of 10.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game on 51.1 percent shooting, 35.4 percent from the three-point arc. He was also voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship while leading Turkey’s junior national team to the bronze medal.
Turkey’s basketball team coach Ergin Ataman surprisingly excluded the NBA star from Turkey’s basketball team for the 2015 European Basketball Championship recently.
Kanter has made no secret of his sympathy for the Gülen movement. The Gülen, or Hizmet, movement is a civil society group that is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched a battle against the movement in late 2013 following the exposure of a graft and bribery probe in which senior government members were implicated.
Accusing the movement of having orchestrated the probe, the government has since waged a war on Hizmet-affiliated schools, banks, media organizations and individuals. Kantar is thought to have become the latest victim of the AK Party’s battle against the movement as he had previously revealed his links to the Hizmet movement, which preaches tolerance and interfaith dialogue between Islam and other religions.
Releasing a written statement late on June 24, Kanter said: “Although I have been repeating my desire to wear the Turkish national team’s jersey over the past two years, the fact that I was not called up is very upsetting. The justifications for this decision are not convincing at all. There is only one reason: I was excluded due to my beliefs and political views,” he noted.
Source: Today's Zaman , July 10, 2015