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Former Knicks Center Excited for ‘Dirty Work’



Former Knicks Center Excited for ‘Dirty Work’

Isaiah Hartenstein left a somewhat cushy job in Manhattan, namely one with the New York Knicks, to take a “dirty” job.

Hartenstein was formally introduced as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday as the former metropolitan big man has inked a three-year, $87 million deal with the defending Westen Conference regular season champions.

Two breakout seasons with the Knicks landed Hartenstein his new payday and he sees the opportunity to work with rising Oklahoma City interior threat Chet Holmgren as one of the perks of his new position.

Hartenstein and Holmgren

Dec 27, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) shoots between New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) during the second half at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

“I may have to do a little more dirty work so he can chill a bit, but it’s really exciting,” Hartenstein said of collaborating with Holmgen, per John Flanigan of SNY. “He’s one of the most talented bigs in the NBA and I think me and him on the court together is going to be very deadly.”

Working alongside one of the NBA’s most prominent young interior talents comes at the price of leaving Manhattan, which gave Hartenstein some form of career stability after a nomadic start to his NBA tours. Hartenstein acknowledged that ending his Knicks career was difficult but the Thunder’s offer proved to be too tempting from both a financial and cultural perspective.

 “If I’m being honest it was hard,” he said. “I love my teammates out in New York, I really appreciate everything (head coach Tom) Thibodeau and (president) Leon (Rose) did for me, and the fans in New York showed a lot of love. 

“But from afar I always saw how the culture was since they’ve been down in OKC, they established the culture and the style of play, it’s something that’s really exciting to me and I think I can really expand my game here.”

The Thunder will no doubt benefit from Hartenstein’s skillset, which is expected to improve an anemic rebounding game. Holmgren led the team with 6.3 boards per game but no one else had more than five.

Oklahoma City is set to mostly run things back with a group that finished atop the West, its team headlined by the services of Holmgren, Jalen Williams, and MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. It has already been a busy summer for the Thunder, who have also welcomed in Alex Caruso from Chicago.

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