Knicks could pivot towards Warriors big man if they lose Isaiah Hartenstein to free agency

Kevon Looney, Knicks
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks’ offseason plans are dependent on the status of their impending free agents. With Isaiah Hartenstein set to receive a lucrative deal this summer, the Knicks are at serious risk of losing him to another team that can offer more money than New York can (Hartenstein’s early Bird rights cap the Knicks at offering him a four-year, $72 million contract).

Therefore, if Hartenstein departs this summer, they could pivot toward the trade market to replace him. A name that Fred Katz of The Athletic mentioned was Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney, who currently has one year left on his contract with the Warriors.

“He fits the Knicks’ vibe check,” Katz wrote. “Looney is a rebounder first, one of the world’s most ferocious on the glass. He finished 10th in the NBA in offensive rebound rate this past season. He’s a physical presence down low and would arrive with championship experience, a member of three of the Warriors’ titles.”

Kevon Looney poses great rebounding prowess

Kevon Looney, knicks
Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Looney is one of the few traditional centers left in today’s NBA. Not particularly known for his offensive prowess, he averages just five points per game for his 10-year career. However, he has developed into one of the game’s better rebounders at the position, as he is averaging 7.5 boards per game over the last three seasons combined.

Looney has also provided the Warriors with impactful minutes in the playoffs. In 2022, the year Golden State won the NBA championship, he averaged 7.6 rebounds and shot 65% from the field, and he would follow that up with the best stretch of basketball in his career a year later in the 2023 playoffs, averaging 13.1 rebounds (4.7 offensive) and shot 57% from the field.

The Knicks can still pursue Looney if Hartenstein stays

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) rebounds against Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to Katz’s belief, the 6-foot-9, 222-pound center could still fulfill a role for the Knicks regardless of how they handle their free agents. Mitchell Robinson is still on the roster and could reclaim his starting job if Hartenstein departs, but there is still a stipulation that presents itself for him if Hartenstein stays.

It is worth noting that if Hartenstein were to return, Robinson could suddenly be on the trade block. He is a good enough player to start but could be handcuffed to a reserve role in New York if Hartenstein comes back, making him a leading candidate to be dealt this summer.

The seven-footer has battled numerous injuries over the years and would likely become a centerpiece in a deal for a star player should the Knicks make such a move. He missed 51 regular season games last season and only played in six postseason games after dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Either way, adding Looney could make sense if a spot opens up on the roster. He brings a lot of size and physicality to the table and would be a strong fit in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. As the start of the offseason nears, be on the lookout for the Knicks to possibly go after Looney as an option for next season.

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