Hartenstein hopes to stay with the Knicks but with a sizable raise

Isaiah Hartenstein can expect a big raise when he becomes a free agent this summer and hopes it comes from the Knicks, writes Peter Botte of the New York Post. Hartenstein grabbed 15 rebounds Saturday night, the latest in a string of impressive performances since he took over as the team’s starting center following Mitchell Robinson’s injury. This is Hartenstein’s first extended stint as a starter in his six years in the NBA, and he’s proving he can handle the challenge.

“Yeah, it’s great timing, I can’t lie about that,” Hartenstein said of his upcoming free agency, “but at the end of the day, I love it here in New York. The plan would be to stay, but in the end you can’t predict what will happen. So you just have to go game by game. But I love New York, I love the fans, I think it’s something special. And I love winning, I think that’s the most important thing.”

After signing Hartenstein to a two-year, $16 million contract in 2022, the Knicks own his Early Bird rights and can exceed the salary cap to retain him. However, there is no guarantee they will be willing to make a long-term investment with Robinson already under contract for the next two seasons.

“I feel like I’ve had moments in the past where I’ve played minutes like this, but I don’t think it’s ever happened over a consistent two months. I think I’m just proving that I can be a starter in the NBA. I think I’ve done that,” Hartenstein said. “And the fact that we keep winning is part of it. I feel like you can be a starter, you can have great stats on a losing team, but it doesn’t mean much. So, just filling that starting role and to play heavy minutes on a winning team, I think that says a lot.”

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