Throughout this past season, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue had been very complimentary and supportive of backup center Isaiah Hartenstein. After all, the chance that Hartenstein got with the Clippers helped elevate not only the big man but the team overall as the organization finished with an 11th consecutive winning season.
The impact that Hartenstein made during his short time in Los Angeles is not lost on the guy who holds the clipboard, as told by Zach Braziller of the New York Post:
“He’ll be good [for them]. You can run stuff through him, he can make plays, he can make passes,” the Clippers’ coach told The Post in between games at NBA summer league. “Defensively, he’s one of Thibs’ types of guys. He can switch at the 5 position, good in the drops. He’s very athletic and so he can do a lot of different things.
The “them” that Lue references is the New York Knicks, the team that Hartenstein reportedly agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with. While the Knicks are also bringing back Mitchell Robinson on a four-year, $60 million deal, Hartenstein should see considerable minutes under New York head coach Tom Thibodeau.
It’s Hartenstein’s first big contract in the NBA, which came about after betting on himself last offseason by declining his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to compete for a roster spot on the Clippers — a spot he eventually won. That competitive nature has helped Hartenstein secure a multi-year deal, further justifying the risk and bet he took.
But the love from both sides still exists, as those around the Clippers clearly still feel a connection to Hartenstein, as well as him feeling “grateful for the opportunity.”
Count Lue among those excited to see what Hartenstein can do in a new setting, and also among those who feel outright joy for the young center getting rewarded with a substantial pay raise, even if it isn’t with the team that Lue himself heads up.
“I’m happy for him, getting the contract he got,” Lue said. “He definitely deserves it. When you see guys like that, who kind of moved around a little bit and they get a real opportunity, and making the money he’s making, I’m happy for him. Great teammate, guys love playing with him. Any time you have a pass-first guy, guys will love playing with them.”
One thing is for certain: Clippers players did love playing with Isaiah Hartenstein. Throughout the season, every player praised Hartenstein’s basketball IQ and ability to read the game, thus making life a lot easier for them on the floor. Without Hartenstein, the Clippers will have somewhat of a hole to fill at backup center. Maybe that spot goes to Moses Brown. Only time will tell.
Isaiah Hartenstein’s one year in Los Angeles won’t go down in the history books, especially on a team that went 42-40. However, it will hold a special place in the hearts and minds of fans who saw his passion and energy on display each and every night, and that one year clearly seems like it will resonate with Lue who, like many others, is very happy that Hartenstein finally got paid what he is worth.
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