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Why Knicks Center Isaiah Hartenstein Would be Intriguing Acquisition for OKC Thunder

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After Oklahoma City’s loss to Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals, many analysts and observers have speculated that the Thunder will look to add a big man over the offseason.

According to a recent report from Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, NBA teams view OKC as a serious threat to lure Isaiah Hartenstein away from the New York Knicks.

If Sam Presti and company do elect to go after the six-year veteran, it would be a huge addition, as Hartenstein started 49 games for one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference and played more than 25 minutes per game.

Bringing in a player who sees the court as much as Hartenstein would be a huge shakeup to the Thunder’s rotation. With Hartenstein likely come off the bench in OKC, Jaylin Williams and Kenrich Williams would see their roles decrease as the team gives more minutes to the former Knicks big man.

While many Thunder fans want OKC to add a player who can replace Josh Giddey in the starting lineup, Hartenstein does not have the skill set to start in Daigneault’s offense. The 26-year-old is a good rebounder, post defender and connector, but does not shoot or handle the ball well enough to fit within Oklahoma City’s five out offense.

Hartenstein can’t play on the perimeter and would clog the paint for players who attack the rim like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. For that reason, the 7-foot, 250-pound center would have to play with the Thunder’s second unit, where he could operate as a rim protector and fight for rebounds with opposing centers.

Additionally, Hartenstein is a solid passer, which fits well with Daigneault’s system and would help make the big man less of an outlier on the court in the Modern Frontier. In 2023-24, Hartenstein averaged 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting over 64% from the field.

While he may not be able to start in OKC, Hartenstein offers plenty of other skills that make him a valuable role player, especially on a winning team.

Hartenstein is coming off of a two year deal with the Knicks that saw the former second round pick earn close to $9 million each season. The talented center is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely have plenty of suitors in free agency.

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