Another report it's going to be next to impossible for Knicks to keep Isaiah Hartenstein

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five

A year ago, Bruce Brown played a key role off the bench in Denver's run to a title and became a fan favorite. However, as he hit free agency, the Nuggets could only offer him a starting salary of $7.8 million this season because of the terms of the CBA. The Indiana Pacers swooped in with a two-year, $45 million offer, and it wasn't much of a choice for Brown.

The Knicks will likely lose Isaiah Hartenstein this summer for the same reason.

The center, who played brilliantly for the Knicks when Mitchell Robinson went down in the playoffs, is about to hit free agency. New York only has his Early Bird Rights, which means the maximum they can offer him is four years, $72.5 million. However, the market for Hartenstein starts at $80 million and goes up, reports Jake Fischer at Yahoo Sports.

Any interested rival team will have the ability to double [New York's max offer] — as much as $151.6 million over the same four-year length. There's little expectation he'll draw such a significant number, but league executives and cap strategists are projecting Hartenstein will be able to draw at least $80 million, and perhaps upward of $100 million, from a team hoping to steal Hartenstein from Madison Square Garden...

For a team that's looking to upgrade at center, the market isn't exactly flush with strong starting options. Nic Claxton will likely command a similar dollar figure to Hartenstein's expected range, sources said, although NBA personnel have long prepared for the Nets' switchable center to remain with Brooklyn... Cavaliers All-Star center Jarrett Allen still has two years and $40 million left on his deal, and that will leave no shortage of suitors for Cleveland's big man... Cleveland, however, has not been truly keen on entertaining rival teams' offers for Allen, sources said, as the shot-blocker and rim-runner developed a strong on-court connection with Donovan Mitchell during a stretch of winning 17 of 18 games this winter.

It's not a strong free-agent center class, and teams looking to upgrade will have Hartenstein on top of their list. Two years ago Hartenstein said publicly he would take a discount to stay with the Clippers (who chose instead to spend their money on John Wall at the urging of their stars) and that opened the door for the Knicks. Hartenstein loves New York and might take a slight discount to stay, but if another team comes in at $90 million or higher, this is a business, and he's going to have to take the bag.

This will leave the Knicks looking for depth in one more position.