Knicks agree to sign center Isaiah Hartenstein: source

The Knicks have a new center and, depending on the separate negotiations with Mitchell Robinson, he’ll probably be a backup.

Isaiah Hartenstein, a 7-foot German, agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal, a source confirmed Thursday.

The 24-year-old blossomed the last two seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers, emerging in the NBA as a second-round pick who began in the G League. He averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds while shooting 63% in 17.9 minutes last season for the Clippers, who failed to make the playoffs after losing twice in the play-in tournament.

Assuming Mitchell Robinson re-signs as an unrestricted free agent, Hartenstein should be the first backup. It’s an important role since Robinson often finds himself gassed or in foul trouble.

Earlier this week, the Knicks traded the starter from two seasons ago, Nerlens Noel. Taj Gibson, a frequent plug-in at center, is 37 years old and a free agent.

Unlike Robinson, Hartenstein can spread the floor and pass in the post. He nailed 14 3-pointers last season at a 47% clip. He also averaged 1.1 blocks as Ivica Zubac’s backup.

With Jalen Brunson agreeing to sign at around $110 million, Hartenstein’s contract dissolves most of the Knicks cap room, if not all of it, depending on how the deals are structured. They can still ink minimum deals and re-sign Robinson using Bird Rights.

Hartenstein’s unique journey to the NBA went from Oregon, where he was born, to Germany, where his father was born and played professionally, to youth teams in Europe and the NBA draft.

He shined in the G League and took a few years—and three teams—to gain his footing in the NBA.

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