3-Time NBA Champion Floated as Knicks’ Potential Isaiah Hartenstein Replacement

Knicks' Isaiah Hartenstein

Getty Isaiah Hartenstein #55 of the New York Knicks leaves the court after Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs.

Three-time NBA champion center Kevon Looney was floated as a potential backup plan for the New York Knicks if Isaiah Hartenstein leaves this offseason.

According to The Athletic’s Fred Katz, Looney “could fill the void” if the Warriors release the veteran center.

“He fits the Knicks’ vibe check. Looney is a rebounder first, one of the world’s most ferocious on the glass. He finished 10th in the NBA in offensive rebound rate this past season. He’s a physical presence down low and would arrive with championship experience, a member of three of the Warriors’ titles,” Katz wrote on June 11.

Looney’s future with the Golden State Warriors is uncertain after he lost his regular rotation spot to rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis this season. Only $3 million of his $8 million salary for next season is guaranteed.

“I think the likeliest situation is that he’s cut, and he makes $3 million from them, and he’s off looking for another spot,” The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami said on the “Warriors Plus Minus” podcast on June 6.

Kevon Looney Awaits His Warriors’ Fate

The writing’s on the wall for Looney, whose role quickly diminished after his stellar play with the Warriors during their 2022 championship run. His streak of consecutive games played ended at 290 during a March 8 loss to the Chicago Bulls this season. He received a DNP (Did Not Play) in eight of the Warriors’ final 21 games.

Looney averaged 4.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in a four-year low of 16.1 minutes per game this season. He is in a wait-and-see mode as the Warriors figure out their offseason moves to get back into title contention after a disappointing play-in exit.

“The ball isn’t in my court,” Looney said “Draymond Green Show” on June 9. “I don’t have full control over my destiny, so I kind of have to play the waiting game, control what I can control. I’ve been here my whole career. I don’t know nothing else. You always want to finish what you started and be somewhere for your whole career, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that’s not realistic. I’m preparing myself for whatever. My family’s out here, the Bay’s been great to me. They treat me like family, I grew up here.

“I haven’t really thought about it too far. I’m trying to see what they’re going to do first before I push the envelope and see what I want to do.”

If the Warriors cut loose Looney, the Knicks could scoop in and offer him their mid-level exception and either the starting spot or backup role depending on how Mitchell Robinson looks like in the training camp after his ankle surgery.

Thunder to Steal Isaiah Hartenstein from Knicks?

With the Knicks capped at offering Hartenstein only $72.5 million over four years, teams with cap space are a threat to steal the German-American center.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, projected to have $33 million in cap room, are the Knicks’ biggest threat in keeping Hartenstein, according to New York Post’s Stefan Bondy.

“The Thunder is viewed by NBA sources as the top threat to pry Hartenstein away from the Knicks in free agency,” Bondy wrote on June 10. “After finishing atop the Western Conference with 57 wins in the regular season, Oklahoma City can make a stronger bid for Hartenstein than the Knicks, who are capped out but can offer a starting salary of roughly $17 million using their Early Bird Rights.”

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