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Coach, teammates react to Enes Kanter's demand to be traded from Jazz

Enes Kanter poses for a photo as the Utah Jazz hold their media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Salt Lake City at the Zions Bank basketball center.
Enes Kanter poses for a photo as the Utah Jazz hold their media day Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Salt Lake City at the Zions Bank basketball center.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

NEW YORK — Moments after the Utah Jazz lost to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, Enes Kanter gave Jeremy Evans a big hug and told Derrick Favors he’d see him again.

If Kanter gets his wish, they just won’t be teammates anymore.

The 22-year-old forward/center relayed a message to Utah media in the locker room after the Wednesday’s game that he hopes to be traded before the Feb. 19 deadline.

Kanter, who only played 18 minutes in the Jazz’s 87-82 setback, was too frustrated to go into details about his decision to come public with this news.

Center Rudy Gobert hadn’t talked to Kanter about his decision to seek a trade, but he knew his Turkish teammate had complaints about his role and playing time.

“I knew he was frustrated about playing time,” said Gobert, who’s had his own issues about the minutes he’s been given early in his career. “But we didn’t really talk about it.”

Point guard Trey Burke was also quite surprised when word of mouth got back to him in New York on Thursday, where he, Gobert and rookie Dante Exum are attending All-Star Weekend festivities.

"It’s a little surprising as a teammate,” Burke said. "Sometimes guys hold things in, they bottle things (up) and … just got to let what they really feel go. I’m not saying I agree with it. At the same time, I’m not one of those guys to get super angry about it.”

That’s similar to how Gobert feels.

His opinion on Kanter’s trade request?

“Nothing really. Whatever he says, I have no control on this,” the second-year French center said. “Wherever he goes, I hope he’ll be good if he’s traded.” This is not new news to the Jazz, by the way.

Kanter’s agent, fellow Turk Max Ergul, has been trying to get the 6-foot-11 big man traded from Utah for years, according to a source with knowledge on the subject.

Kanter's camp has “really turned up the heat” on Jazz management for a trade in recent weeks, the source added.

Not surprisingly, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey responded with a “No comment.”

Ergul denied to the Deseret News that he’s been trying to get the Jazz to trade Kanter for years.

Either way, Kanter’s camp has never been pleased with the way the third pick of the 2011 draft has been used by the Jazz, and frustrations have only increased despite a welcomed coaching change.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder reiterated Thursday that he’s been happy with Kanter’s progress this season. In his weekly radio interview, Snyder said the young big is one of the players who’s “been invested” in improving, especially on the weaker part of his game, his defense.

“I think Enes is getting better,” Snyder told The Zone/Utah Jazz Radio Network. “I think he’s committed to the defensive end in a way that pleased me, particularly the progress he’s made from the beginning of the year. That’s been our primary goal.”

Snyder said he wasn’t aware of specifics of what Kanter told the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, and he didn’t want to comment on that aspect of the story.

“I will say that we’re in an emotional business. Anything that is said or done surrounding a game I discount on some level,” Snyder said. “I don’t know the specifics of the situation other than Enes did have some comments.”

The first-year coach added that it’s important to remember that he’s dealing with a particularly young team, too.

“Enes is a good person,” he added.

There is one big problem for Kanter, a restricted free agent who couldn't come to terms on a contract extension last fall, in his desire to be traded. There has been little to no interest from other teams in acquiring him over the years, the Deseret News has been told.

Earlier in his career, Kanter was in a tough position because the Jazz had veteran bigs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap ahead of him in the rotation. This season, the rapidly improving Gobert and veteran Trevor Booker have received playing time in a four-man frontcourt rotation, which also includes starting center Derrick Favors.

Kanter is averaging career-bests in points (14.0 ppg), rebounds (7.8 ppg) and minutes (27.3 mpg, up from 26.7 mpg last year).

The Jazz’s starting power forward finished with six points and 10 rebounds in his 18-minute outing in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas. He did not return after being hit in the face and leaving the game holding his eye in the third quarter.

Kanter was upset that he wasn’t given a chance to play again after his eye felt better.

“I don't know what it was, but it was not my eye at all,” he said. “So we'll see what's going to happen.”

While teammates went their separate ways for the All-Star break, Kanter left Dallas to hang out with friends in Pennsylvania.

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