By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder backup center Enes Kanter, who has become one of the team’s most valuable players and a guy Russell Westbrook has touted as Sixth Man of the Year, told reporters today he “felt really bad, like I was letting my team down” in the minutes before he smacked a chair on the bench.
“I was trying to not make any mistakes during the game,” he said, “and I had turned the ball over a few times and I just came to the bench, I was frustrated like I was letting everybody down and then I hit my arm.”
Of course now ow he really has let his teammates down because he’s likely out at least six weeks and perhaps as long as eight with that broken right forearm.
And that is a fact that’s not lost on Kanter. He fully realizes how costly his mistake has turned out to be.
“It’s a sad thing because you know you’re letting your teammates down and your coaches when you make a mistake like that but the only thing you can do is you learn from it.”
Give Kanter credit, not every player would have agreed to speak with reporters but he took every question and he said he also addressed his teammates earlier in the day and apologized for not being able to control his temper.
“I told them I need to control my emotions and I hope everybody can learn from my mistake, that if you learn from this mistake then maybe it’s a good thing.”
And like head coach Billy Donovan said after Thursday night’s game Kanter said perhaps others on the team will be able to take advantage of an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
“It’s an opportunity for Joffrey (Lauvergne) Domas (Sabonis), Jerami (Grant) and other guys to play more and help the team win. They’re probably gonna play some big minutes.”
Donovan and his staff are still working out all the details but the burden of taking up the slack from Kanter’s absence won’t fall on one player.
“I think we’ve gotta do it by committee, collectively as a group,” Donovan said.
Lauvergne will likely get a long look, but Sabonis will get more minutes with the second team too and you’ll probably see a lot more of Nick Collison too and the plan will be refined moving forward.
The Thunder don’t catch a break with the schedule as they’ll be forced into have to experiment against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs the next two games.