Report: Knicks in serious danger of losing key player

report: knicks in serious danger of losing key player

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein.

Despite being marred by injuries all season, the Knicks were one win away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2000. A lot of that success can be attributed to players who stepped up in the absence of their injured teammates, perhaps none more important than Isaiah Hartenstein.

While his season averages of 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists don't jump out, the 7-footer played a key role on both ends of the floor for Tom Thibodeau's Knicks. From setting hard screens for Jalen Brunson to switching on to smaller players and holding his own, Hartenstein truly showed his worth all year long, allowing the Knicks to withstand recurring injuries to Mitchell Robinson.

Most importantly, Hartenstein proved to be a seamless fit in the blue-collared culture that Thibs built with the Villanova trio.

It would be a shame for the Knicks to lose Hartenstein as a free agent, but a possibility they must brace for. According to New York Post's Stefan Bondy, the Thunder are viewed as "the top threat" in NBA circles to pry Hartenstein away from the Knicks this offseason.

The report added that the Thunder can "make a stronger bid" for Hartenstein than the Knicks, who "are capped out" and can offer roughly $17 million a year using his Early Bird Rights.

In comparison, the Thunder have a projected $33 million in cap space, per ESPN's Bobby Marks, with the flexibility to open up more room this offseason.

Ironically, Brunson predicted back in April that Hartenstein "would break the bank" in free agency and command a much higher salary than the $9.24 million he received this past season.

Hartenstein would solve a lot of the Thunder's issues with size and rebounding that were exposed during their second-round loss to the Mavericks.

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