Knicks Rumors: Hartenstein In Line For Massive Contract; Top Suitor Named

When Mitchell Robinson went down yet again with a devastating injury this season, Isaiah Hartenstein stepped up big-time, having a breakthrough year for the New York Knicks, playing a more impactful role than he ever had before in his five-year NBA career.

 The 25-year-old became the starter at center, played over 25 minutes a game, blocked over one shot and had one steal per game, while pulling down 8.3 rebounds. He established himself as a vital part of what the Knicks did on the court. Hartenstein even flashed some serious passing chops in the playoffs, averaging 4.3 dimes per game in the Knicks' second-round series against the Indiana Pacers.

Now, as he enters free agency, one report has him set to command a contract worth up to $100 million. Quite the step up from the 2-year, $16 million pact he signed with the Knicks in 2022. 

“League executives and cap strategists are projecting Hartenstein will be able to draw at least $80 million, and perhaps upward of $100 million, from a team hoping to steal Hartenstein from Madison Square Garden,” writes NBA insider Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

In fact, the Yahoo Sports writer even calls him the best big man on the free agent market, ahead of Brooklyn's Nic Claxton. And the latter is largely expected to re-sign with the Nets.

The only other established starting center who will be a UFA this summer is Jonas Valanciunas, who isn't expected to garner more than the mid-level exception in contract offers ( $12.9 million). 

So which team is likely to shell out those big bucks to woo Hartenstein away from the Big Apple? According to Fischer, the Oklahoma City Thunder are primed to jump into the mix, as their dearth of rebounding became apparent during their second-round playoff defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.

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