New York Knicks: Isaiah Hartenstein
The Knicks signed Hartenstein last offseason with high hopes for him as a backup center behind injury-prone Mitchell Robinson. Yet he was a clunky fit in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s isolation-heavy offense for most of the regular season.
Hartenstein has never excelled in the dunker spot, and has been hit or miss in pick and roll action, depending on if the guards can spoon feed the big man; he has always hung his hat on being a playmaking center. As Chet Holmgren’s backup in OKC, he’d thrive in the second unit.
In his one season with the Clippers in 2022, Hartenstein registered an impressive assist percentage of 19 percent, placing him in the 92nd percentile amongst bigs according to Cleaning the Glass. Unlike Thibodeau, OKC Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault could maximize the big man’s strengths and put him in a position to succeed. We have seen Daigneault use his big men as high-post playmakers throughout his Thunder tenure.
Hartenstein could run dribble handoffs with deadeye shooters like Isaiah Joe and Davis Bertans—if he’s still on the Thunder. He’d provide a dynamic change of pace to the OKC offense while providing some much-needed size.
Hartenstein is a strong rebounder and a mobile defender who can protect the rim. He’s in the second year of a two-year contract with the Knicks, who owe him just $8 million in 2024.
After a shaky season in New York, perhaps the team decides to move him while they can. Hartenstein’s benefit to OKC would far outweigh the low cost to acquire him.
This is a buy-low opportunity for the OKC Thunder. They can grab a long-term backup to Chet Holmgren for a cheap price.