Knicks Notes: Hartenstein, Brunson, Anunoby, Grimes, LeBron

Isaiah Hartenstein can expect a huge raise when he becomes a free agent this summer and he hopes it comes from the Knicks, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Hartenstein grabbed 15 rebounds Saturday night, the latest in a string of impressive performances since he took over as the team’s starting center following Mitchell Robinson‘s injury. This is Hartenstein’s first extended experience as a starter in his six years in the NBA, and he’s proving he can handle the challenge.

“Yeah, it’s great timing, I can’t lie about that,” Hartenstein said about his upcoming free agency, “but at the end of the day, I love it here in New York. The plan would be to stay, but at the end of the day, you can’t predict what’s going to happen. So you have to just go game-by-game. But I love New York, I love the fans, I think it’s something special. And I love winning, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

After signing Hartenstein to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2022, the Knicks own his Early Bird rights and can go over the salary cap to keep him. However, there’s no guarantee they’ll be willing to make a long-term investment with Robinson already under contract for the next two seasons.

“I feel like in the past I’ve had times where I’ve played minutes like this, but I don’t think it was ever over a consistent two-month span. I guess I’m just proving that I can be a starter in the NBA. I think I’ve done that,” Hartenstein said. “And us still winning is a part of that. I feel like you can be a starter, you can have great stats on a losing team, but it doesn’t really mean much. So just being in that starting role and playing heavy minutes on a winning team, I think that says a lot.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Jalen Brunson may be the Knicks’ best point guard since Walt Frazier, but he’s uncomfortable with comparisons to the Hall of Famer, Botte adds in a separate story. Brunson expressed admiration for Frazier, who still has a visible role with the team as a broadcaster. “Whenever I see him. I have to say ‘hi’ to him. I can’t just walk past him because he’s a legend,” Brunson said. “But to be able to see him every day just knowing the presence he brings around this organization, you have to respect him and you have to understand the things that he did as a player are remarkable.”
  • Coach Tom Thibobeau wasn’t able to offer an update on OG Anunoby, who missed his fourth straight game Saturday with elbow inflammation, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Thibodeau said Quentin Grimes is doing more on-court work after suffering a knee sprain, but both players are considered day-to-day (Twitter link).
  • During Saturday’s visit to Madison Square Garden, Lakers star LeBron James told reporters that he considered joining the Knicks when he was a free agent in 2010, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Although he doesn’t give it any chance of happening, Stefan Bondy of The New York Post makes the case that New York may be a better fit for James than L.A. at this point in his career.
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