June 13, 2024

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Thunder favored to sign Isaiah Hartenstein if not Knicks

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein will be one of the more coveted big men on the free-agent market this offseason, and if the Knicks do not keep him, the Oklahoma City Thunder may be the favorites to land him.

The Thunder have been given +300 odds to sign Hartenstein by Bet Online Sportsbook in the event that he departs New York in free agency.

Thunder favored to sign Isaiah Hartenstein if not Knicks

Given the fact that the Knicks have some very tight financial constraints, there is a legitimate possibility that Hartenstein walks. It would certainly be a tough pill to swallow for New York fans after Hartenstein won their hearts with a terrific postseason showing, but the Knicks simply may not be able to afford him.

The 26-year-old played in 75 games and made 49 starts during the 2023-24 regular season, averaging 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks over 25.3 minutes per game while shooting 64.4 percent from the floor and 70.7 percent from the free-throw line. He also posted an impressive .204 win shares per 48 minutes.

Hartenstein then started all 13 of the Knicks’ playoff games this spring, registering 8.5 points, 7.8 boards and 3.5 assists across 29.8 minutes a night. He made 59.2 percent of his field-goal attempts and 86.4 percent of his foul shots. He played tremendous defense to boot.

Isaiah Hartenstein would fit great on the Thunder

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) reacts during the third quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder won 57 games and finished with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference this season, but ultimately bowed out to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs.

Oklahoma City has a terrific young nucleus spearheaded by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren, but there is one area in which the Thunder are lacking: size.

Holmgren stands 7-foot-1, but he has a very slight frame and tends to get pushed around on the interior as a result. Otherwise, Jaylin Williams is the biggest player in OKC’s regular rotation at 6-foot-9, and he comes off the bench.

The Thunder can certainly use a big like Hartenstein to add some height and bulk up front and have the cap space to pay him. That being said, Oklahoma City does have to worry about handing out contract extensions to some of its young players, so it will probably exercise caution in how many years it offers Hartenstein.

Thunder favored to sign Isaiah Hartenstein if not Knicks

Due to having early bird rights, the Knicks can’t offer Hartenstein more than $16.2 million annually. The Thunder can certainly go beyond that, but again, the question then becomes what the length of the deal would be. Plus, Hartenstein has seemed to embrace New York, so it’s entirely possible he takes a hometown discount to remain in the Big Apple.

Another important point to consider is that Hartenstein is more of a traditional center. Personally, I think OKC could use that, as it would bring some toughness and physicality to a frontline that sorely needs it. But, because the Thunder value floor spacing so heavily, they may not feel Hartenstein is worth big bucks.

5 Offseason Moves the Oklahoma City Thunder Should Make

Sometimes, a change of philosophy is needed to take a team to the next level, and with some of the other contenders starting to shift back to two-big lineups, Oklahoma City may need to seriously consider deviating from its comfort zone.

If the Thunder think outside the box and become amenable to a more traditional big man, Hartenstein would represent a terrific choice.

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