When the Knicks signed Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year, $16 million contract last year, they cited his shooting, playmaking, and passing as complementary skills to bruising center Mitchell Robinson.
However, as Stefan Bondy writes in a subscribers-only article for the New York Post, Hartenstein quickly learned last season that he needed to adapt his game to fit coach Tom Thibodeau’s system to stay in the rotation. “ I think that’s something that many NBA players don’t do. That’s what the league boils down to,” Hartenstein said. “And for me, that meant tailoring it less to a finesse game and more to getting guys open [with blocks], more just crashing for rebounds. Whereas before it was more of a passing thing, get him in the pocket, exploit him. Hartenstein doesn’t post flashy stats, but he figures to be in the conversation to be the best backup center in the league. When Bondy asked about his impending free agency in 2024, the 25-year-old said: “We’ll see what happens. I love New York, so we’ll see what happens.”