Knicks’ roleplayers could receive big paydays with new contracts in the offseason

NBA: Washington Wizards at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks centers Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa have filled in admirably for the injured Mitchell Robinson this season. After Robinson went down with an ankle injury in the Knicks’ Dec. 8 matchup against the Boston Celtics, Hartenstein carried the mantle at center and put up monster rebounding performances in double-double efforts.

Achiuwa then joined the Knicks as part of the OG Anunoby trade and has posted career numbers at both the power forward and center slots with All-Star Julius Randle having also gone down with a dislocated shoulder on Jan. 27 against the Miami Heat.

What will Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa’s production yield contractually in free agency?

ESPN’s Bobby Marks projected both big men’s worth in their upcoming 2025 free agency. Antonio Losada of Posting and Toasting revisited Marks’ projections as the season reaches its final 14-game stretch:

“Marks projected Achiwua’s free agency value at “$8 million-$10 million in annual salary,” and the former Brooklyn Nets Assistant GM also estimated “a $13 million-$14 million annual salary” for Hartenstein’s next deal,” Losada said.

A $13 million salary would put Hartenstein just outside of the top 20 highest-paid centers in the league next season. Further, $10 million would place Achiuwa below Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City Thunder) at No. 28.

Knicks need to balance their cap situation wisely to retain their core

The Knicks’ salary cap situation in 2024-25 and beyond leaves them with tough decisions to make. They have $142.85 million on the books next season with OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jericho Sims in the final year of their respective deals.

Not only so, but Alec Burks will join Hartenstein as a UFA. If the Knicks were to capitulate to the market value of both Hartenstein and Achiuwa, they’d then hover above $160 million in contracts. Anunoby is gunning for $30 million annually in his next deal (and deservedly so), while Bogdanovic could garner eight figures again.

That doesn’t make either big man any less worthy of their projected earnings. It’s paramount for the Knicks to retain one. Keeping both will give the Knicks flexibility and depth down low.

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