The Brooklyn Nets will be in an interesting predicament this offseason. They clearly have the talent to compete for a title, but the team’s surrounding depth could use some help. Unfortunately, they won’t have a ton of money to work with.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons are all on max contracts, and Joe Harris is making around $18.6 million. So, while improving their depth is a major goal, they’ll have to strike gold on the free agency market. One recent article suggested a big man who could help them do that.
Dan Favale wrote an article on May 28 detailing impending free agents who could look for a change of scenery this offseason. According to Favale, the Nets are a potential landing spot for LA Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein.
Hartenstein just wrapped up a career year, putting up 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on 62.6% shooting from the field. The 24-year-old played a crucial part in Ty Lue’s rotation in LA, averaging 17.9 minutes in 66 games off the bench.
Favale noted that, while Hartenstein could continue to be effective in LA, he would benefit from a new situation that could give him more minutes (and more money).
Hartenstein’s Offseason Search is ‘About His Role’
Brooklyn presents Hartenstein with a unique situation. They are ready to contend for a championship but also have a glaring hole at the center position. Nicolas Claxton and Andre Drummond are quality rotation bigs, but outside of them, they have no one to go to. (Especially considering Claxton may depart this offseason.) Hartenstein would benefit from a situation like that.
“Insisting Hartenstein shop around doesn’t quite track with his performance. But this isn’t about his fit. It’s about his role—and his pay grade,” wrote Favale.
Hartenstein could immediately step in and play big-time minutes for the Nets. If he wants to contribute important minutes for a contending team, the Nets could be a great landing spot. Plus, they have their mid-level exception to offer him. That would be $6.4 million, and while Hartenstein could probably earn more money from lesser squads, the Nets would give him a solid role and a chance to go deep into the playoffs.
In addition, Hartenstein gives the Nets an upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, something they desperately need.
Hartenstein Provides Defensive Upgrade
As explained by Favale, Hartenstein was an underrated defender. He actually ranked atop the league in regard to opponent’s percentage at the rim. On top of that, he’s a quality passer, finisher, and shooter.
“Opponents shot 47.5 percent against him at the hoop—the stingiest mark among 163 players to challenge at least 150 attempts,” Favale explained. “And his 19.3 assist rate ranked sixth among centers who averaged 15 or more minutes per game. He isn’t a detonative lob threat, but he can finish tough catch-and-lay-ins above the rim and has some outside range. He nailed 14 of his 30 three-point attempts (46.7 percent) and found nylon on almost 59 percent of his floaters (55-of-93).”
With Claxton potentially leaving Brooklyn this offseason and Drummond hitting the free-agent market, adding depth at the center position will be crucial for the Nets. Snagging Hartenstein on a relatively cheap contract would give them a dependable, all-around center to throw out on the court in a variety of different situations.