Isaiah Hartenstein


Isaiah Hartenstein


Getty

Isaiah Hartenstein

Isaiah Hartenstein has come into his own since joining the New York Knicks. His play will surely lead to a pay raise, no matter what. However, because he played so well, keeping him will be a tall task for the Knicks.

Despite limited cap room this offseason, some teams are willing to pay for Hartenstein. The New York Post’s Stefan Bondy reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder are eyeing Hartenstein.

“The Thunder is viewed by NBA sources as the top threat to pry Hartenstein away from the Knicks in free agency,” Bondy wrote. “After finishing atop the Western Conference with 57 wins in the regular season, Oklahoma City can make a stronger bid for Hartenstein than the Knicks, who are capped out but can offer a starting salary of roughly $17 million using their Early Bird Rights.”

Their interest is nothing to sneeze at, as a source told Bondy that “it’s real.”

Bondy revealed what the Thunder might be willing to offer Hartenstein.

“One league source speculated the Thunder would offer a short-term deal (such as two years) with a high salary, providing both sides with long-term flexibility.”

In 75 games with the Knicks during the 2023-24 season, Hartenstein averaged 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks.


Thunder Tabbed as ‘Obvious Threat’ for Isaiah Hartenstein

Before Bondy confirmed the Thunder’s interest, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus explained why Hartenstein would grab their attention in free agency.

“The Thunder are the obvious team with cap space to outspend New York. They need additional size up front, and Hartenstein is still only 26. It makes a lot of sense on paper, but Oklahoma City has to decide that Hartenstein is the right fit.”

The Thunder rose to become the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in 2024. However, the Dallas Mavericks eliminated the Thunder in the second round because they lacked frontcourt depth. Outside of Chet Holmgren, the best big men the Thunder had were Mike Muscala and Bismack Biyombo.

Hartenstein would fix that problem. Since they don’t have much long-term money committed outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, they have the cap room to add Hartenstein outright. The Thunder looming could also push the Knicks to offer him as much as possible.


Isaiah Hartenstein Could Get Up to $100 Million: Report

Hartenstein will be among the bigger free agents to hit the market. Though the Knicks have early bird rights, the most they can offer is a four-year contract worth $72.5 million. That could be a problem because Hartenstein could get more than that.

Yahoo Sports! Jake Fischer reported what executives believe Hartenstein could make on the open market.

“League executives and cap strategists are projecting Hartenstein will be able to draw at least $80 million, and perhaps upward of $100 million, from a team hoping to steal Hartenstein from Madison Square Garden.”

That will be quite the pay raise for Hartenstein, but that’s what happens when he proves his production on a playoff team like the Knicks. With Mitchell Robinson projected to come back healthy for the 2024-25 season, the Knicks won’t necessarily miss Hartenstein much. However, they will need frontcourt depth, and what Hartenstein brings can’t be easily replaced.

Matt John covers the NBA for Heavy.com. A Massachusetts native, he has covered the NBA since 2018, with stops at The Sporting News, FanSided, Basketball News and Basketball Insiders. More about Matt John





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