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#pounditWednesday, July 24, 2024

1 West team reportedly ‘top threat’ to poach Isaiah Hartenstein from Knicks

Isaiah Hartenstein in a Knicks jersey

May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) reacts during the third quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks appear to have some serious competition to retain unrestricted free agent Isaiah Hartenstein this offseason.

Hartenstein was one of the Knicks’ breakout players throughout their 2023-24 campaign. The 26-year-old replaced the injured Mitchell Robinson in the starting lineup for most of the year and quickly became a fan favorite for his relentless motor and strong interior presence.

Hartenstein’s improved play this past season also makes him one of the most highly coveted free agent big men in the market. According to the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy, the Oklahoma City Thunder are considered “the top threat” to sign Hartenstein if he doesn’t stay with the Knicks.

It’s no surprise that the Thunder would be interested in a bruising big man like Hartenstein. OKC relied heavily on rookie center Chet Holmgren this season without any quality alternatives. While the Gonzaga product was an elite shot-blocker averaging 2.3 blocks per game, his lack of bulk made it difficult for the Thunder to defend opposing big men this postseason.

Hartenstein, who stands 7’0″ and weighs 250 pounds, would be an ideal addition to help solve the Thunder’s dire size problem.

The Knicks can offer Hartenstein a maximum of $17 million despite not having cap room since the team holds his “Early Bird” rights. But signs point to the Knicks being priced out of the Hartenstein sweepstakes.

The Thunder have about $35 million in cap space and could easily top any Knicks offer for the big man’s services.

The Knicks center averaged 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 64.4% shooting across 75 games this season.

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