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Report: Enes Kanter heading back to Portland as part of three-way deal

The Grizzlies get Mario Hezonja and Desmond Bane while Celtics get a future draft pick.

Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Miami Heat during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs on September 17, 2020 at the AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.  Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics have traded C Enes Kanter back to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a three-way trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal was reported first on draft night with the Grizzlies acquiring the 30th pick and rights to TCU G Desmond Bane. Memphis will also get F Mario Hezonja, while Boston gets future draft considerations, per Woj.

The Blazers are using their $7 million trade exception to take on Kanter’s $5 million salary, per Woj. The idea is to get back to the Nurk-Kanter pairing that helped the Blazers reach the West Finals a few seasons ago.

Kanter was traded by the Knicks to Portland in the 2018-19 season. He played 23 games for the Blazers before signing with the Celtics via free agency before 2019-20. Kanter will likely serve as the backup center to Jusuf Nurkic with C Hassan Whiteside likely to bolt via free agency this weekend. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 games for the Blazers in his brief stint a few seasons ago.

As for the Celtics, well, they are in need of some front court depth now that Kanter is gone and Gordon Hayward is about to test free agency. The Celtics have Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Robert Williams, but other than that, Boston is thin at center. The Celtics could still swing a sign-and-trade involving Hayward to add a starting caliber center. The Pacers and Celtics have been rumored to be working on such a deal that could involve C Myles Turner.

The Grizzlies get another forward in Hezonja while also adding some back court depth with Bane, who could develop into a solid backup to Ja Morant at PG. The Grizzlies have built a very deep and very young roster overall. Hezonja may be hard-pressed for playing time behind Kyle Anderson, Justise Winslow, Brandon Clarke and Anthony Tolliver.