Knicks Ihart

How the Knicks Can Re-Sign Isaiah Hartenstein

As the New York Knicks navigate the complexities of building a championship contender, a key focus is Isaiah Hartenstein’s contract situation. Hartenstein, having proved himself as a pivotal piece in the Knicks’ puzzle, brings a rare blend of rim protection, screening ability, and passing. He has been a staple in coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive-first mindset as has become a fan favorite.

His unique skill set, especially in the wake of Mitchell Robinson’s ankle injury, has highlighted his value not just as a center but as an indispensable asset in New York. The intricacies of securing Hartenstein’s services for future seasons involve a careful consideration of salary cap implications, and financial flexibility. All in interest of strategic capital allocation to retain talent and build around core players like Jalen Brunson. 

There will need to be abundance of strategic moves that the Knicks could employ to ensure Hartenstein remains a cornerstone of their roster. From leveraging existing contracts to navigating the nuances of the NBA’s salary cap, the Knicks need to secure Hartenstein’s contract amidst the competitive landscape of NBA free agency.

Hartenstein’s Value

Rim Protection and Defense

Isaiah Hartenstein has established himself as a defensive stalwart for the New York Knicks, particularly highlighted by his performance filling in during Mitchell Robinson’s absence due to ankle surgery in the Knicks’ playoff run. His defensive prowess helped the Knicks achieve a 50-win season for the first time since the 2012-13 season. With Hartenstein on the court, the Knicks allowed only 110.3 points per 100 possessions, a testament to his impact as a top defender in the NBA.

Offensive Contributions

Offensively, Hartenstein has made significant strides, particularly in his role alongside Jalen Brunson. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Brunson has been crucial, contributing to his career-high averages in points and rebounds since the start of the new year. He also makes such smart decisions with the basketball and is an underrated passer. Hartenstein’s presence on the offensive glass has also been particularly impactful, allowing the Knicks need to capitalize on second-chance points, which ranks them second in the league.

Locker Room Chemistry

Beyond the court, Hartenstein’s influence extends into the locker room where his hard-playing style and defensive anchoring. Tom Thibodeau praises his defensive decisions, and his teammates recognize him as a “comfort blanket,” reliable in setting hard screens, making precise passes, and bolstering the team’s defensive coverage. Fans and teammates know he brings 100% effort every single night. 

Financial Constraints and Options for Re-Signing

Early Bird Rights Limitations

Due to Isaiah Hartenstein’s two-year tenure with the Knicks, the team holds only Early Bird rights, restricting them to offer a starting salary no more than 175% of his last season’s pay. Consequently, the maximum offer Hartenstein could receive from the Knicks starts at $16.2 million for the 2024-25 season, capping at nearly $72.5 million over four years.

Potential Offers from Other Teams

Competing teams can propose a similar starting salary as the Knicks, but their offers are confined to four years, with smaller annual raises, totaling $181.9 million. However, the significant difference lies in the fifth season, potentially increasing the total compensation through a new contract. Additionally, rival teams might double the Knicks’ offer, reaching up to $151.6 million over four years. Considering NBA free agency history, nothing is out of the question, especially with a new TV deal looming and another salary cap bump.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Contracts

A strategic option for Hartenstein might be accepting a one-year deal with the Knicks, which would enable re-signing under Full Bird rights the following summer. If he gambles on himself, he can potentially secure a max contract. This arrangement, however, poses a risk of financial loss should his performance decline or injuries occur. Alternatively, Hartenstein could opt for a shorter-term deal, with a player option, allowing for a renegotiation under more favorable conditions after a year.

Offering a One-Year Deal with Future Promises

The Knicks might consider offering Isaiah Hartenstein a one-year contract with the potential for future promises. This strategic approach would keep Hartenstein in the fold for the upcoming season while setting the stage for a more lucrative long-term contract, aligning with both the player’s and the team’s interests. To maintain financial flexibility while securing Hartenstein’s services, the Knicks could explore creative contract structures. Options might include incentives or team options that provide mutual benefits, allowing the team to retain its strategic flexibility for future roster decisions.

Freeing Up Cap Space 

Sometimes if someone stays, someone must go. The Knicks have definitely explored the possibility of trading Mitchell Robinson to secure Isaiah Hartenstein. Even if they love Robinson, they might have to do it. It would stink to see but it is the reality of the business. Not only in the name of cap space, but to acquire quality role players, thereby strengthening the Knicks’ bench. They needed it in the playoffs so it might have to be done.

Additionally, trading Robinson for future draft picks could help the Knicks build a younger, cost-effective roster. It also could help accumulate even more draft that Leon Rose has been hoarding. All to be used in a future deal as the NBA landscape can change rapidly. This trade consideration stems from the desire to balance defensive and offensive capabilities. Although both bring defensive intensity, Hartenstein’s offensive skillset aligns well with the team’s needs. Ultimately, trading Mitchell Robinson aims to improve the Knicks’ roster flexibility, and depth while managing their salary cap efficiently.

Pending Free Agency

Losing Hartenstein would be a huge blow for the Knicks. The Knicks should deploy every move in regards to his contract situation. The key for the Knicks continued success starts with not only retaining OG Anunoby, but Hartenstein. If Leon Rose could do that and get Jalen Brunson to sign an extension this summer, fans should consider it a success. These three moves will cement the Knicks core financially while providing all the financial flexibility to then aggressively pursue a splash acquisition. These strategies present a roadmap for the Knicks to navigate their most critical offseason in years. The ensuing decisions start with shaping whether the next chapter of Hartenstein’s career is with the New York Knicks. 


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *