3 things to know about Knicks free agency signing Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein isn’t the biggest New York Knicks free agency signing of the evening, but as a backup center, he brings value. Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Hartenstein agreed to a two-year, $16 million-plus deal with the Knicks.
The seven-foot big man spent the 2021-22 with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks while shooting 62.6% from the field.
New York signing Hartenstein means that the Knicks could waive Taj Gibson and his 5.2 million contract for 2022-23, which is something that’s expected to happen.
There hasn’t been news about Mitchell Robinson since the start of free agency, but New York signing Hartenstein signals that the Knicks are likely going to bring Robinson back.
Since Hartenstein isn’t a big name in the NBA (yet), let’s go over some facts about the seven-foot big man.
3 facts about newest New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein
3: He gave up his college eligibility to play professionally in Europe
Hartenstein was born in Eugene, Ore., but moved to Germany at a young age because that’s where his father, Florian Hartenstein, played professionally. And when the time came for Isaiah to attend college, he chose to forego going back to the United States to instead play professionally in Europe.
He played for both the Artland Dragons and Zalgiris Kaunas from 2015-2017. In 29 games in Lithuania, Hartenstein averaged 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds.
2: He’s played for five teams in five years
Hartenstein’s played for the Houston Rockets (2018-2020), the Denver Nuggets (2020-21), the Cleveland Cavaliers (2021-22), and the Clippers this past season. Him signing with the Knicks means that he’ll have played for five teams in five years.
With the Rockets, Nuggets, and Cavaliers, he played in a combined 97 games. This past year, he played in 68 games in Los Angeles and averaged 17.9 minutes.
1: His scouting report
Hartenstein averaged 2.4 assists per game with the Clippers, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Per an NBA scout, he’s “one of the best passing centers in the NBA.” So yes, there are some shades of Nikola Jokic in Hartenstein’s game.
The difference between him and Robinson is that Hartenstein can be more of a force on offense for the Knicks. He shot 46.7% from the 3-point line this past year, but that was on less than half of an attempt per game, so despite what you might’ve read, he’s not a phenomenal 3-point shooter.
If Hartenstein can become consistent with his shot, though, it’ll make New York’s second-unit that much more fun to watch.
The Knicks were wise to snag Hartenstein in free agency because at his age, and with his experience, New York is a great place for him to continue to develop and grow with a young roster.