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Rumor: OKC Thunder have real interest in Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein

The Oklahoma City Thunder enter the 2024 offseason with over $35 million in cap space to spend. Coming off a top-seed finish and a Round 2 exit, OKC is better equipped than most to make some serious upgrades.

The Thunder are reportedly a serious threat to sign Isaiah Hartenstein away from the New York Knick. The New York Post broke the possibility on Monday.

“‘It’s real,’ an NBA source said of OKC’s interest in Hartenstein… One league source speculated the Thunder would offer a short-term deal (such as two years) with a high salary, providing both sides with long-term flexibility.”

If this materializes to reality, Hartenstien offers a quick fix to the Thunder’s size and rebounding woes. OKC was 27th in the league in rebounds per game this past season. A lack of a true backup big limited its lineup flexibility.

Hartenstein had a breakout year last season with the Knicks. He took over the starting center spot for them once Mitchell Robinson went down and was a starter for 49 out of 75 games.

The 25-year-old averaged 7.8 points on 64.4% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks. His 18.5% rebound rate would’ve easily ranked first among OKC’s regular rotation players.

If the Thunder adds Hartenstein, it will likely be on a bloated short-term deal. He could command $20 million a season, which means OKC would likely have to spend most of its cap space on the veteran center.

If they sign Hartenstein to a two-year deal, it’ll align perfectly for when the extensions of Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams likely kick in. This could make for a clean divorce between the two parties as OKC’s payroll will get very expensive, very soon.

It’d be a good fit on the court. Hartenstein was the Knicks’ starting center all playoffs and put up decent numbers. He’d be a legit lob threat and can be a great pick-and-roll partner. He’s also a decent passer and can keep the ball moving. The outside shot is nonexistent but that’s a decent price to pay for the defensive tandem of himself and Holmgren.

The Thunder have plenty of money to spend this offseason, overpaying for a position of need on a short-term deal is a sound strategy considering they smashed open a championship window last season.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire