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Plenty of options for Knicks to consider in quest to replace Isaiah Hartenstein



Plenty of options for Knicks to consider in quest to replace Isaiah Hartenstein

As NBA free agency enters its second week, the Knicks still have a sizable rotation hole to fill — namely a viable big man to replace departed center Isaiah Hartenstein.

The Knicks presently have Mitchell Robinson, who underwent two ankle surgeries in the past seven months, and little-used Jericho Sims on the depth chart at center after Hartenstein bolted for a three-year, $87 million deal from the Thunder in free agency.

Team president Leon Rose creatively managed to keep the Knicks under the first apron of the salary cap by including extraneous pieces in the blockbuster trade with the Nets to obtain Mikal Bridges.

But several bigs who fit the profile of the Knicks’ needs to replace Hartenstein — such as Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee, Goga Bitadze and Mo Bamba — already have signed new deals elsewhere.

So who is left for the Knicks — who are armed with a $5.17 million taxpayer midlevel exception to offer — to consider?

Leon Rose and the Knicks still need to find a center for their roster. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Here are a few remaining possibilities with the Summer League set to open in Las Vegas later this week:

Precious Achiuwa

The Bronx product filled a valuable role amid various injuries following his midseason arrival from Toronto in the OG Anunoby deal, averaging 7.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 49 games (18 starts) with the Knicks.

The unrestricted free agent, who can be re-signed using his Bird rights, played both center and power forward depending on the availability of others.

Precious Achiuwa played both center and power forward for the Knicks. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

But Tom Thibodeau prefers Achiuwa at the 4-spot.

He’s slightly undersized at 6-foot-8, and that’s a lot to ask if Robinson is sidelined for extended stretches.

Walker Kessler

The 23-year-old Jazz center fits the Thibodeau profile as a rim protector with 2.4 blocked shots per game last season, the second-most blocks in the league behind Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama.

The 7-footer also was a member of Team USA at the 2023 FIBA World Cup alongside Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

Walker Kessler has a favorable contract for the 2024-25 season. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Kessler has a favorable contract with a $2.97 million cap hit for 2024-25 plus a club option, but league executives have expressed skepticism, according to The Post’s Stefan Bondy, that the Knicks have enough assets to swing a deal after the Mikal Bridges trade.

Robert Williams

The Knicks would have to include some salary to squeeze in the former Celtics big man, who spent an injury-shortened season with the Trail Blazers following the Jrue Holiday trade.

Williams is coming off knee surgery and has two years and nearly $26 million remaining on his contract.

It would be risky for the Knicks to send a rotation piece such as Donte DiVincenzo to Portland to match salary.

Daniel Theis

Perhaps the Knicks could replace one German product with another.

The 32-year-old Theis is strong around the rim and also can serve as a stretch big who can knock down a 3-pointer, converting 37.1 percent from deep last season with the Clippers.

JaVale McGee

The three-time NBA champion is now 36 after appearing in 46 games off the bench for the Kings last season.

But the 7-foot McGee has averaged 1.4 blocks per game over 16 NBA seasons and could be a consideration as a stopgap reserve and veteran presence, similar to multi-time former Knicks forward Taj Gibson.

JaVale McGee came off the bench for the Kings last season. USA TODAY Sports

Nick Richards

The fourth-year Hornets center posted career highs with 9.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 26.3 minutes per game last season.

Richards, a Jamaica native who played collegiately at Kentucky, is slated to earn $5.0 million each of the next two years.

Paul Reed

Joel Embiid’s former backup was waived by the 76ers last week after Philly landed Andre Drummond in free agency.

Paul Reed was waived last week by the 76ers. Getty Images

But the 6-9 Reed isn’t considered a premier defender (0.8 blocks per game in his career).

Before the Knicks’ six-game playoff elimination of the Sixers, Reed also publicly stated that his team preferred to face the Knicks in the first round because they were an “easier” opponent than the Celtics.

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