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Enes Freedom: ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I had little playing time and was released’

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Enes Freedom (former Enes Kanter) has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government and those he considers too sympathetic to China.

Freedom has also dropped out of the NBA after 11 years in the league.

The center began the season with the Celtics, but played a career-low 12 minutes per game. They traded him to the Rockets, who cut him.

Liberty, via Sopan Deb of The New York Times:

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I had little playing time and was released,” he said. “But it takes people with a conscience to speak up and say it’s not okay.”

“I don’t want to retire at 29,” Freedom said.

“Sometimes,” he added, “sacrifice is a very important word, then there are bigger things.”

Did Kanter lose his job because he criticized China’s oppression and authoritarianism? Maybe. The NBA has clear financial incentives to avoid drawing the wrath of China and has at times been inclined to expand/maintain its reach in the country.

But Kanter wasn’t as effective as usual this season in his biggest strength: inside scoring. It has long been a defensive responsibility. Boston has flourished defensively this season in large part by putting five quality defenders on the floor, giving opponents a soft spot to attack. The rebuilding Rockets had little basketball reason to use a roster spot with someone who seems past his prime.

As the league has gotten smaller, center has become the deepest position in the NBA. Virtually everyone who would have been a power forward/center in an earlier era is now exclusively a center. Many former power forwards are now centers. Some former combo forwards and even small forwards are now primarily centers.

It wouldn’t be surprising if a limited player like Kanter with no strong political views wasn’t signed.

It also wouldn’t be surprising if that player is adding depth to an NBA team’s bench.

We need to be on the lookout for signs of players facing de facto bans because of their speech, especially when that speech advocates the freedom of others. But hard evidence is often difficult to find, let alone evidence.

More about the Celtics

Report: New York alters vaccine mandate, allowing Kyrie Irving to play… NBA Power Rankings: Suns hold top spot, Celtics move up to second Three things to know: With about 10 games to the end, NBA playoff/play-in races…

Enes Freedom: ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I had little playing time and got released’ originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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