ENGLEWOOD, N.J. —Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter has been close to the news all offseason.
There were the political issues with his native country, Turkey, followed by an eventful summer for the Thunder, including Kanter popping up in trade rumors, nothing new for the oft-talked about sixth man.
Now, Kanter is spending his summer living in New York City. He fielded tough-as-ever questions Friday from young kids (such as, “Which team do you hate the most?” or “Who is better at defense: You or James Harden?” or “Will you dunk on [Los Angeles Lakers rookie] Lonzo Ball?”) at a weekend-long basketball camp he was running in Englewood, N.J., before answering some questions for The Transcript, sitting down to discuss his offseason, his family, the max extension the Thunder have offered Russell Westbrook and more.
Here is the conversation, which has been edited for brevity and clarity:
Fred Katz: I have to ask the most important question of the day.
Enes Kanter: Am I getting traded?
Katz: No. Way more important. You got grilled harder in that question section with the kids than any reporter has done with you. How was that?
Kanter: I know! I promise, when I first went back to Utah, it wasn’t that hard. These were the hardest questions. There should not be media guys anymore. There should not be reporters. Just kids. It was terrible. I was like, what kind of questions? What are you doing? I thought they just want to ask about Russell and OKC and whatever. That was tough. It was cool, though. That shows that they watch us a lot.
Katz: A lot of Lonzo Ball questions.
Kanter: I went to Hong Kong, people asked me about him. He’s good, but he played in summer league, not an actual NBA game yet.
Katz: So, how’s your offseason going? What have you been doing over the offseason?
Kanter: I’m in New York just hanging out, doing basketball. I’m just working on my game.
Katz: What’s your workout regimen when you’re alone in New York?
Kanter: I work on the stuff I don’t do during the season too much. So, I work on my 3-point game a lot, face-up game. I’ve been really focused on the defensive stuff.
Katz: How do you work on defense when you’re just you? What do you do?
Kanter: You put down the cones. You go slide to one cone, touch it. You go touch the other cone. Come back and do some drills. Just shuffle and just chop steps…It’s about the legs.
Katz: Now, I’ll ask you the question that you already asked for me. What do you think of the trade talk surrounding you?
Kanter: I see trade rumors all the time, especially about me. The year I got traded to OKC, I played that year and then after every year, I heard the rumors. ‘Enes Kanter is getting traded. Enes Kanter is getting traded.’ I can’t say enough how much I love the fans [in Oklahoma City], how much I love the organization, all the people there. I see them like family. I really see them like my family. But if it happens, it happens. I can’t do nothing about it, because it’s not in my hands.
Katz: Did you have that same mentality when you were in Utah and you actually got traded? Do you feel like you’ve matured more?
Kanter: Yeah, of course. If I ever get traded, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate this organization. They’re amazing.
Katz: So, what were you like in Utah, then? How have you changed as a person?
Kanter: I changed. Of course, you cannot compare OKC to Utah. There is a huge difference, but I changed, too. If you see something bad, you don’t say it to media. You have to keep it to yourself. You don’t have to say it loud. You just have to be mature about it, because those fans are paying your bills, and they love you.
Katz: How is your family doing?
Kanter: They’re doing pretty good, actually. I haven’t talked to them. But my brother, I’ve been asking questions.
Katz: Russell Westbrook has had this extension offer on the table for about a month. You think he’s going to sign it?
Kanter: He knows that there is not another place on Earth that people love him like OKC fans do. I see him like my brother, and he loves it here. I hope he’ll stay. He’s a huge part of our family.
Katz: Is the extension a thing you guys talk about?
Kanter: No. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it, yeah.
Katz: Is that awkward? Is it an elephant in the room?
Kanter: It is awkward. Of course it is awkward, but in the end, it’s a business. We don’t really talk about it, but we know how much we love each other.
Katz: Alright thanks, man.
Kanter: That’s it? That’s easy. Way easier than the kids!
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the Locked on Thunder podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.