Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Should the Knicks Re-Sign Isaiah Hartenstein?

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) reacts after a basket against the Toronto Raptors during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden.

The New York Knicks faced a challenging season, marked by injuries and fluctuating performances. Amidst these challenges, Isaiah Hartenstein emerged as a standout player, stepping up when the team needed him most. Thrust into the starting role due to Mitchell Robinson‘s extended absence, Hartenstein seized the opportunity to have a career year, proving his value on both ends of the court.

Hartenstein’s performance this season was nothing short of impressive. His ability to fill the void left by Robinson showcased his resilience and versatility. Offensively, Hartenstein demonstrated exceptional playmaking skills for a big man, often initiating plays and creating opportunities for his teammates. His presence in the paint was equally noteworthy, with relentless offensive rebounding providing the Knicks with crucial second-chance points. Defensively, Hartenstein’s shot-blocking ability was a key component of the Knicks’ interior defense. His timing and instincts allowed him to alter shots and protect the rim, making him a formidable presence in the paint.

Should the Knicks Re-Sign Isaiah Hartenstein?

Hartenstein’s Impact on the Knicks

The Knicks went 32-17 with Hartenstein in the starting lineup. That’s a 54 win-pace. As a starter, Hartenstein averaged 8.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He was a top-10 offensive rebounder in the league this season. Because of his presence on the offensive glass, the Knicks were able to generate multiple shots in the same possession, wearing down the defense. His ability to hover in the paint and shoot his one-handed floaters gave the Knicks an interior scorer when the perimeter shots weren’t falling. Furthermore, his passing ability was an underrated aspect of the Knicks offense. Hartenstein was extremely good at making plays with the ball in his hands and often made the right play.

Among players who started more than 40 games, Hartenstein had one of the 15 best defensive ratings in the league, at a miserly 109.9. That would rank as 2nd in the NBA. Hartenstein allowed opposing players to shoot just 49.9% on 2-pointers this season. It is hugely impressive, and it becomes even more astounding when considering most of the shots are attempted fairly close to the rim. According to estimated plus-minus, Hartenstein had the 2nd best defensive plus-minus in the league and was in the 89th percentile for steal percentage and block percentage. He was a rim deterrent for the Knicks and averaged a block and a steal per game.

Isaiah Hartenstein’s Free Agency

There are several reports that Hartenstein could have a huge payday this offseason. The Knicks have his early-bird rights, but they can only offer him a maximum of 4-years $72.5 million. He is one of the best non-shooting big men available on the market this offseason, and as such, he will be in huge demand for various teams across the league. There is also the small matter of Hartenstein’s current total NBA salary. He has played 6 years in the league and has made just $22.65 million. This will be his 1st big payday, and it is unlikely that Hartenstein will take a discount to continue with the Knicks. He is likely to make $20-25 million on an annual basis, and his skill set is best suited for an already contending team. Teams would love an interior presence that can defend and rebound well against the multitude of 7-foot unicorns that are coming into the league.

Retaining Isaiah Hartenstein

So, should the Knicks keep him?

For the Knicks to pay Hartenstein, they have to trade away Mitchell Robinson. I do not think the Knicks should keep both Hartenstein and Robinson on the team. Doing so would mean devoting over $30-35 million/year to 2 players with almost identical skill sets and no outside shot. Both of them are great offensive rebounders, and while Hartenstein is slightly better offensively, Robinson is slightly better on the defensive end. There is also the durability factor, something that Hartenstein is heavily favored in. In his last two seasons, Robinson missed 74 games. That’s almost 37 games a season.

Alternative Options (Backups)

Precious Achiuwa

The Knicks can re-sign Precious Achiuwa as he is a restricted free agent. They will be able to match any offer that comes his way, and this gives them a great defensive backup behind either Hartenstein or Robinson. He showed his ability as a defensive player and can take on some of the tougher big men in this league.

Mo Wagner

Coming off a career year with the Magic, Mo Wagner will almost certainly get paid. Wagner is the best offensive center available this offseason and could slide in perfectly in crunch time minutes. He can shoot the 3-ball a bit but will be able to handle playing alongside ball-dominant stars, much like he did in Orlando.

The Last Word

Nobody in the postseason did more to up their price than Isaiah Hartenstein. He deserves every single penny that he gets in free agency. Will it be the Knicks?


More Posts