Following a career year in his debut campaign in Tinseltown, Isaiah Hartenstein is leaving the Los Angeles Clippers for the New York Knicks in NBA free agency, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Hartenstein averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 62.6% from the field in 68 games last season.
After reports that the Clippers planned to use their mid-level exception on John Wall, it seemed unlikely Hartenstein would return to the team he spent last season with. His loss subtracts a useful center from the Clippers’ rotation, and it’s unclear as of right now how they’ll fill the void.
Hartenstein bet on himself last offseason, opting to leave a guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and attempt to make the Clippers’ roster in training camp. He ultimately beat out Harry Giles III for the 15th and final roster spot. Later on, due to how well Hartenstein was playing, the Clippers shipped Serge Ibaka to the Milwaukee Bucks to free up even more playing time for Hartenstein.
There had been some rumblings that the Clippers might be able to retain Hartenstein with a veteran's minimum contract and opt to pay him next season due to early Bird rights, much like with Reggie Jackson last offseason and Nicolas Batum this offseason. However, Hartenstein played himself out of their price range.
It’s a great swing of fortune for Hartenstein, as he now will have a much larger role on — and paycheck with — the Knicks. The Clippers will now be in the market for a backup center that can inevitably fill some of the void that Hartenstein leaves behind, but with the Clippers’ penchant for playing small at times, they could wait to see how the market unfolds before doing so.
This breaking news story may be updated with more information and analysis as it continues to develop.