JULY 12: The Knicks have officially signed Hartenstein, the team announced (via Twitter).
“We are very excited to welcome Isaiah Hartenstein to the Knicks family,” said Knicks president Leon Rose. “He’s a versatile big man who impacts the game on both sides of the floor and who plays with a passion and energy that is contagious.”
JUNE 30: The Knicks and free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein have agreed to a two-year, $16.7MM deal, reports Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’ll be fully guaranteed, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Hartenstein had been linked to the Knicks in the days leading up to free agency, with New York said to be in the market for a backup at the five. The expectation is that the team will still re-sign Mitchell Robinson as its starting center, though no agreement is in place yet.
With Serge Ibaka still rounding into form following offseason back surgery, Hartenstein emerged early in the 2021/22 season as the Clippers’ primary backup center and thrived in the role, making 62.6% of his shots from the field and handing out 2.4 APG in just 17.9 minutes per contest. He even flashed the ability to hit the occasional three-pointer (14-of-30) and played solid defense.
Hartenstein has played for four teams in four NBA seasons and has never earned more than the minimum, but his performance this past season put him in a good position to land a multiyear deal and a raise, which he’ll get in New York.
If the Knicks are able to turn their deal with Jalen Brunson into a sign-and-trade, there are scenarios in which they operate over the cap this offseason, in which case Hartenstein would be in line for a chunk of the mid-level exception. However, if the club goes below the cap and uses room, it will have enough to accommodate both Brunson and Hartenstein.