As Turner’s price is too rich for their blood, the Knicks targeted his poor man’s version this summer.
Isaiah Hartenstein signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks that could be a bargain if he lives up to his billing. The journeyman backup center has been looking for a home and he views New York as the ideal place to establish himself after bouncing around with four different teams.
“I think it was a spot where I felt wanted. That was a big thing coming into it. Finding a place where first of all, I can bring something. I felt like I can bring something that they didn’t have, to help them win.”Isaiah Hartenstein via NY Post
For the first time in Thibodeau’s tenure, the Knicks will have a modern-day big man who can help spread the floor. Hartenstein shot 46.7 percent from behind the arc last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, albeit in a small sample size (14 of 30 three-point attempts). But the 7-foot German center insists it wasn’t an outlier.
“What a lot of people don’t get, it’s not like I’m learning how to shoot. Before coming into the NBA, it was more of [playing the] four, shooting. In Houston, I played my role. It wasn’t to shoot, it was pick-and-roll. When I was in the G-League, I hit eight 3s in one game, so it’s not like I’m learning how to shoot the ball. I think that’s one thing that me and Thibs talked about, helping spread the floor.”Isaiah Hartenstein via NY Post
Hartenstein did the unthinkable on the big stage, a 33-point game anchored by eight three-pointers, as he led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the 2018-19 NBA G League championship. His feat earned him the G League Finals MVP and a return ticket to the NBA after two unproductive seasons with the Rockets.
Hartenstein became Nikola Jokic’s understudy in Denver before bouncing to Cleveland and finding his niche with the Clippers as Ivica Zubac’s backup.
Coming off a career year (8.3 points, 2.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 18 minutes off the bench), Hartenstein hopes to flourish even more in New York as Mitchell Robinson’s chief backup.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo