Isaiah Hartenstein

Isaiah Hartenstein Signs With Clippers

SEPTEMBER 15: Hartenstein’s deal with the Clippers became official on Monday, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

SEPTEMBER 11: The Clippers have agreed on a training camp deal with free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Hartenstein, 23, split last season between the Nuggets and Cavaliers, averaging career-best numbers with 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 16 games with Cleveland after being acquired at the trade deadline.

He had a player option worth about $1.76MM for next season, but turned it down and opted for free agency instead. Cleveland decided against issuing him a qualifying offer, leaving him unrestricted.

The Trail Blazers, Thunder and Nets were among the teams that reportedly expressed interest in Hartenstein, and the Cavaliers were believed to be open to bringing him back.

The Clippers have 14 guaranteed contracts heading into training camp and one of their two-way slots still open, so Hartenstein will have a couple of avenues to win a roster spot.

Scotto’s Latest: Blazers, Beasley, Patterson, Ennis, More

The Trail Blazers have 13 players with guaranteed contracts on their roster and have added Dennis Smith Jr. and Marquese Chriss on non-guaranteed deals to vie for one of the team’s open roster spots. However, that competition may end up including more veterans than just Smith and Chriss.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Trail Blazers are eyeing other free agent forwards as possible training camp invitees. Michael Beasley, who played for Portland’ Summer League team, is one possibility. The club is also eyeing veteran stretch four Patrick Patterson, says Scotto.

The Blazers still only have 16 players under contract, which means there are four more spots available on their 20-man offseason roster.

As we wait to see how Portland fills those openings, here are a few more items of interest from Scotto:

  • Having previously identified the Bulls as one team interested in free agent wing James Ennis, Scotto adds a few more clubs to that list, suggesting that Ennis has also drawn interest from the Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Magic. Ennis, who has spent most of the last two seasons in Orlando, knocked down 43.3% of his three-point attempts in 2020/21.
  • Another player who has received interest from the Trail Blazers is big man Isaiah Hartenstein, according to Scotto, who says the Clippers have kicked the tires on the former Cav as well. As I detailed on Tuesday, Hartenstein is the only player who is still a free agent after declining an option earlier this summer.
  • Before he signed with Chicago, Alize Johnson generated interest from a handful of other teams, including the Clippers, Suns, and Knicks, per Scotto. If the Clippers had wanted Johnson badly enough, they could’ve claimed him off waivers using one of their trade exceptions, which wasn’t an option for Phoenix or New York.

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Of the 16 veterans who had player options on their contracts for the 2021/22 season, seven picked up those options, forgoing free agency for another year of security. However, that leaves nine players who opted out and reached the free agent market.

For some players, that decision was an easy one. For instance, Norman Powell was long believed to be in line for a multiyear deal in the range of $15-20MM per year, so exercising his $11.6MM player option never would’ve made any sense.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that we’re five weeks into free agency, we want to look back on those decisions to see if they paid off for the nine players who opted out.

Let’s dive in…

The biggest wins:

  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $36,016,200 (Clippers)
    • New contract: Four years, $176,265,152 (Clippers)
  • Norman Powell
    • Option: $11,615,328 (Trail Blazers)
    • New contract: Five years, $90,000,000 (Trail Blazers)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    • Option: $12,302,496 (Nets)
    • New contract: Three years, $54,000,000 (Wizards)
      • Note: Deal includes $8MM in incentives; third year partially guaranteed.

Leonard, Powell, and Dinwiddie all secured raises for the 2021/22 season and increased their overall guarantees exponentially. Leonard tacked on an extra $140MM in guaranteed money, while Powell’s new overall guarantee is nearly eight times more than his option salary.

Dinwiddie’s new contract isn’t quite as favorable as the other two, but it’s still a major win for a player who missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to an ACL tear. Even in a worst-case scenario, Dinwiddie will earn $45MM in guaranteed money. He can ensure his third-year salary becomes fully guaranteed by appearing in at least 50 games in each of the next two seasons, and he has the ability to earn even more in incentives.

A solid win:

  • Chris Paul
    • Option: $44,211,146 (Suns)
    • New contract: Four years, $120,000,000 (Suns)
      • Note: Deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. Third year is partially guaranteed; fourth year is non-guaranteed.

If you want to move Paul to the “biggest wins” group, I wouldn’t argue with that. After all, he increased his overall guarantee by more than $30MM, which is no small feat for a player hitting free agency at age 36.

I’m separating him into his own group because his 2021/22 salary was reduced by more than $13MM as part of his new deal, and I think it’s possible he could’ve gotten more than $30MM in guaranteed money on his next deal if he had simply picked up his option and hit free agency next year.

I certainly don’t blame him for going this route though, given his injury history. And if he continues to play at a high level, the Suns will probably want to keep him for the third year of the deal, which would increase his overall guarantee on this contract to $90MM.

Minor wins:

  • Will Barton
    • Option: $14,669,642 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $30,000,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $2MM in incentives.
  • JaMychal Green
    • Option: $7,559,748 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $16,400,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $400K in incentives.
  • Bobby Portis
    • Option: $3,804,150 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Two years, $8,912,580 (Bucks)
  • Bryn Forbes
    • Option: $2,454,002 (Bucks)
    • New contract: One year, $4,500,000 (Spurs)

The Nuggets took a similar approach to their negotiations with Barton and Green — Denver gave each player a small raise this year, plus a second guaranteed season (Green’s second year is a player option).

The Bucks went that route with Portis too, giving him the biggest raise they could offer using his Non-Bird rights and including a second-year player option on his new deal.

You could make a case that Forbes is a big winner for nearly doubling his 2021/22 salary, but without any future years tacked onto that deal (and given the relatively small salaries involved), I’m classifying it as a modest victory.

The jury’s still out:

Hartenstein is the only one of these nine players who remains unsigned. Based on his solid play with the Cavs down the stretch, turning down his minimum-salary player option seemed like a reasonable bet at the time, but it now looks like he might’ve been better off taking the guaranteed money.

While he’ll probably be signed at some point in the coming weeks, Hartenstein isn’t a lock for a fully guaranteed deal. And even if he gets a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary contract, it’ll be worth slightly less ($1,729,217) than the option he declined, due to the league’s minimum-salary rules.

Nets Have Interest In Hartenstein, Love

The Nets are interested in signing free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein and would also be interested in Kevin Love if the Cavaliers buy him out, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Hartenstein became an unrestricted free agent when he declined a minimum-salary player option and the Cavaliers subsequently didn’t submit a qualifying offer to him. He was traded last season by Denver to Cleveland, where he averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.2 BPG in 17.9 MPG.

The Nets and Cavs were among the teams who watched Hartenstein work out in Las Vegas this month.

Love and the Cavs have reportedly made some progress toward a buyout, but are not close to finalizing an agreement.

In any instance, Brooklyn would need to open up a roster spot to fit in Hartenstein and/or Love. The most likely candidate to go is center DeAndre Jordan, who could be bought out, waived, or possibly traded if the Nets are willing to attach an asset. Forward Alize Johnson, who has a non-guaranteed deal, is another possibility. The date for a partial guarantee of $200K on Johnson’s contract has been pushed back from September 4 to October 19, when the regular season begins, according to Lewis.

Cavs Rumors: Valentine, Reddish, Hartenstein, Kabengele

The Cavaliers remain on the hunt for a wing who can play rotation minutes, according to Chris Fedor of, who reports that Denzel Valentine is among the free agents drawing interest from the team.

Valentine, 27, spent the first five years of his NBA career in Chicago. He had a promising 2017/18 season (10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, .386 3PT%), but missed all of the ’18/19 campaign due to an ankle injury and has provided inconsistent production since then.

Here’s more on the Cavaliers from Fedor:

  • The Cavs have interest in adding a third point guard and/or a backup center. However, Fedor believes addressing the wing remains Cleveland’s top priority — the point guard spot would be next, followed by the five.
  • The Cavs have been exploring the trade market as they search for another wing, but appear unwilling to part with a first-round pick – even if it’s protected – for any of the currently-available options, Fedor writes. The club has been in contact with the Hawks about Cam Reddish, Fedor adds.
  • Sources tell that the door remains open for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein to re-sign with the Cavs. Assistant GM Mike Gansey watched Hartenstein work out for teams in Las Vegas, according to Fedor, who says the Thunder, Clippers, and Nets also had reps in attendance. If the Cavs were to sign Hartenstein or another center, Mfiondu Kabengele‘s roster spot would be in jeopardy, Fedor notes.

Central Notes: Mobley, Hartenstein, Garza, Bulls

The tenure of Cavaliers rookie center Evan Mobley in this year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is over, confirms Chris Fedor of (Twitter link). Fedor adds that the Cavaliers were only ever planning to have the former USC big man, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, suit up for three contests while in Vegas.

In 33 games for USC, Mobley averaged 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 2.9 BPG. He was named the 2020/21 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as well as the 2020/21 Pac-12 Player of the Year during his lone college season. Mobley was also a consensus All-American selection.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • A Cavaliers team representative attended a Las Vegas workout for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein this week, tweets Chris Fedor of Hartenstein played with Cleveland to conclude the season, as part of the team’s return package in the trade that sent center JaVale McGee to the Nuggets. Fedor notes that, though Cleveland may be open to a reunion, the club’s priority is adding wing depth. The seven-footer averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.2 BPG across 16 games for Cleveland after the deal.
  • Pistons rookie big man Luka Garza is aware that he may have to use effort to compensate for his shortcomings in speed. “I know every guy in the NBA can beat me in a 3/4 court sprint,” he said, per James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). “But is everyone going to run that hard in the game? No, but I’m going to.” The 6’11” Garza was the No. 52 selection out of Iowa in this year’s draft.
  • New Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan anticipates that his All Star teammate Zach LaVine will see his play improve thanks to a galvanizing Summer Olympics stint in Tokyo this year, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“Just being around the greatest players in the world, the greatest minds, the greatest coaches, it does something unconsciously to you that gives you the ultimate confidence, the ultimate work ethic, makes you realize that you belong in the elite category of guys,” DeRozan said. “You see their work ethic, the way they approach the game, the winning mentality that they have and what it feels like to win. And something like that carries over whether you realize it or not. It goes a long way.” DeRozan won a gold medal with Team USA during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Cavaliers To Make Isaiah Hartenstein UFA

The Cavaliers will not issue a qualifying offer to reserve center Isaiah Hartenstein ahead of the 2021/22 season, making him an unrestricted free agent, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (via Twitter).

Hartenstein averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.2 BPG across 17.9 MPG for a dismal 22-50 Cavaliers club last year. Cleveland’s frontcourt has undergone a major upgrade already during the offseason, as the Cavaliers drafted promising USC big man Evan Mobley with the third pick in the 2021 draft on Thursday. The Cavaliers are also expected to hold on to incumbent starting center Jarrett Allen, a restricted free agent this summer.

Mobley seems destined to start at power forward or center, but whether Allen or current starting power forward Larry Nance Jr. is the odd man out will ultimately be determined by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Given that big man Kevin Love, a probable reserve, has two years and $60.2MM left on his exorbitant deal with the club and will be hard to trade this season, moving on from Hartenstein this summer makes sense from a minutes perspective.

Hartenstein, 23, was first selected by the Rockets in the 2017 NBA draft after a promising 2016/17 stint with Lithuanian pro club Žalgiris. After being waived by Houston in the 2020 offseason, the 7’0″ German then joined the Nuggets as a potential backup for eventual MVP Nikola Jokic ahead of the 2020/21 season. Hartenstein and two future Cleveland second-rounders were ultimately traded to Cleveland for an upgrade at the reserve center position in JaVale McGee.

Hartenstein declined a minimum-salary player option earlier this offseason.

Cavs’ Hartenstein Declines Player Option, Will Be Free Agent

Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein has decided not to exercise his player option for the 2021/22 season and will become a free agent, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). The minimum-salary option would’ve paid Hartenstein about $1.76MM.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2021/22]

Multiple reports in June indicated that Hartenstein was expected to opt out, so his decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Those reports also suggested that the 23-year-old was a good bet to work out a new deal with the Cavaliers rather than leaving Cleveland for a new team.

Hartenstein is eligible for restricted free agency, which will give the Cavs some control over the process and increases the likelihood that he sticks around. The team will have to issue a qualifying offer worth about $2.03MM to avoid having him become an unrestricted free agent.

Hartenstein began the 2020/21 season in Denver, but played limited minutes with the Nuggets and was sent to Cleveland as part of the JaVale McGee trade at the March deadline. In 16 games with the Cavs, Hartenstein recorded 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.2 BPG in 17.9 minutes per contest. All of those averages would’ve been career highs.

The Cavs’ frontcourt figures to undergo some changes this offseason, whether or not Hartenstein returns. Like Hartenstein, Jarrett Allen will be eligible for restricted free agency, though Cleveland is expected to bring him back. Kevin Love is considered very available in trade talks, and the club may end up adding big man Evan Mobley with the No. 3 pick in the draft.

Cavs Rumors: McConnell, Caruso, Hart, Love, Hartenstein

Length, athleticism, versatility, and shooting are the traits that the Cavaliers will be prioritizing as they consider potential roster moves this offseason, Chris Fedor writes in a mailbag for A secondary ball-handler will be at or near the top of Cleveland’s wish list, whether that player is a point guard or a play-making wing, Fedor adds.

The Cavaliers don’t project to have cap room this summer, but intend to be “aggressive” with their mid-level exception, which should be worth nearly $10MM. Free agent point guards T.J. McConnell and Alex Caruso will be among the team’s top targets, according to Fedor. Both will be unrestricted free agents and are tough defenders who could be attainable with the MLE.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • One of the free agents Fedor mentions as a possible target for Cleveland is Josh Hart. Fedor, who notes that Hart is one of Larry Nance Jr.‘s best friends, hears from sources that the Pelicans wing may be seeking a fresh start. However, Hart is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Pelicans will have the ability to retain him if they so choose.
  • Addressing the Kevin Love situation, Fedor says that some people in the front office view the idea of waiving and stretching Love’s remaining salary (two years, $60MM) as a non-starter. There have also been no buyout talks so far, according to Fedor, who gets the impression that the Cavs would only be open to going down that path if Love initiates those discussions and gives up enough salary to make it worthwhile.
  • Fedor confirms Michael Scotto’s report that Cavs big man Isaiah Hartenstein will likely turn down his player option in the hopes of signing a multiyear deal with Cleveland.
  • The 2021/22 season isn’t viewed as a “playoffs-or-bust” year by Cavs leadership, but everyone feels the team will need to show “discernible on-court progress and take a few steps forward” in the fourth year of its rebuild, says Fedor. In a separate article for, Fedor suggests that historical precedents show the Cavs’ rebuild is on schedule.

Scotto’s Latest: Magic, Hartenstein, Allen, Ennis, Theis

Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast alongside Yossi Gozlan, Michael Scotto identified Nets assistant Ime Udoka and former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson as potential candidates to watch for the Magic‘s open head coaching position.

Clippers assistant Dan Craig and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham are among the other names Scotto has heard linked to the job in Orlando. If the Bucks lose their second-round series to Brooklyn, it could be the end of the road in Milwaukee not just for Mike Budenholzer, but for several members of his staff, including Ham, Scotto notes.

Here’s more from the podcast:

  • Scotto says Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein plans to turn down his player option, after hinting as much last month. Hartenstein will be eligible for restricted free agency and is a good bet to remain in Cleveland, either on a multiyear contract or on his qualifying offer, according to Scotto.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hornets and/or Mavericks could pursue Jarrett Allen, but Scotto expects the RFA center to ultimately remain with the Cavaliers, who gave up a first-round pick for him earlier this year.
  • James Ennis, who has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2014, will be seeking some stability as a free agent this offseason, per Scotto, who says Ennis is hoping for a deal that covers three years, or at least two. After knocking down 43.3% of his three-pointers in 2020/21, the veteran forward will be looking for a salary worth at least the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto has heard from people around the league that free agent center Daniel Theis could command a deal worth at least the mid-level exception. Theis would like to join a winning team, but also wants the opportunity to play regularly.