Knicks could retain breakout big man with a lucrative contract

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) dunks in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks could be gearing up to offer center Isaiah Hartenstein a massive deal in free agency. Coming off of the best season of his career, Hartenstein is sure to cash in with whatever team he ultimately signs with.

Isaiah Hartenstein could command hefty contract in free agency

Bleacher Report (h/t Sports Illustrated) recently wrote that Hartenstein could sign with the Knicks for a maximum of $72.5 million over four years, roughly $18 million annually. While this figure may seem hefty, Hartenstein will have earned every penny after stepping up massively for the Knicks following the injuries to Mitchell Robinson.

Hartenstein is coming off a career year in 2024

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

The 26-year-old Hartenstein averaged 7.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game over 75 appearances (49 starts) last season, showcasing his versatility on both ends of the floor, and developing great pick-and-roll chemistry with Knicks PG Jalen Brunson. Even upon Mitchell Robinson’s return from injury late in the regular season, Hartenstein continued to stay in the starting lineup, earning the trust of head coach Tom Thibodeau to handle the load.

Hartenstein was also key for the Knicks during their playoff run, which ended one game shy of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the playoffs, Hartenstein averaged 8.5 points, and 7.8 rebounds over 13 playoff games.

Perhaps his signature moment coming in Game 2 of the First Round versus the Philadelphia 76ers, with the Knicks down 99-101 with just 20 seconds remaining, Hartenstein snagged an offensive rebound off a Donte DiVincenzo 3-point miss over multiple 76ers defenders, kicking it out to OG Anunoby who then found DiVincenzo again, who this time nailed the 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 102-101 lead.

In the next possession, Hartenstein sealed the win for good, blocking a layup from Philadelphia 76ers G Tyrese Maxey to end one of the wildest finishes in Knicks playoff history.

Hartenstein is part of the Knicks’ lengthy offseason to-do list

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) slaps hands with guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

While Hartenstein is certainly a priority for the Knicks this offseason, they have a long to-do list ahead of them. In addition to Hartenstein, the Knicks also have to prioritize re-signing OG Anunoby, who is also expected to hit free agency this offseason. Given the fact that the Knicks gave up RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley in the December blockbuster trade for Anunoby, it is likely that bringing him back will be at the top of the Knicks priorities.

Also, All-Stars Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle are eligible for hefty contract extensions this offseason. Early indications have suggested that Brunson may be willing to sign an extension now rather than wait until next summer, however, Randle’s situation is much more volatile.

Randle is coming off a major shoulder injury, and will likely command up to $300 million in next year’s free agency if the Knicks aren’t able to extend him this offseason. Randle’s name has begun to appear in trade rumors, although it is still far too soon to know what the Knicks will do with the 3-time All-Star.

Given the production he provided the Knicks this past season and the injury history of Mitchell Robinson, one can safely assume the Knicks will do what they can to retain Hartenstein. How much money Hartenstein will receive remains to be seen. The Knicks have a long offseason ahead of them and will have to figure out a way to retain key members of last season’s roster, including Hartenstein.

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