Saturday, June 25, 2022

Nets linked with 24-year-old Big Man as a free agency target

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The Brooklyn Nets will find themselves in an interesting predicament this offseason. They clearly have the talent to contend for a title, but the depth surrounding the team could use some help. Unfortunately, they don’t have much money to work with.

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons all have Max contracts and Joe Harris earns around $18.6 million. So while improving their depth is a primary goal, they need to find what they are looking for in the free agency market. A recent article suggested a great man who could help them with this.

Dan Favale wrote an article on May 28 about upcoming free agents who might be looking 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 completed a career year, averaging 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists on 62.6% shooting from the field. The 24-year-old played a pivotal role in Ty Lue’s rotation in LA, averaging 17.9 minutes in 66 games.

Favale noted that while Hartenstein could continue to be effective in LA, he would benefit from a new situation that could buy him more minutes (and more money).

Brooklyn presents Hartenstein with a unique situation. They’re ready to fight for a championship, but they also have a glaring hole in middle position. Nicolas Claxton and Andre Drummond are quality rotary greats, but outside of them they have no one to turn to. (Especially considering Claxton could leave this off-season.) Hartenstein would benefit from such a situation.

“Hartenstein’s insistence on snooping around doesn’t quite match his performance. But it’s not about his fit. It’s about his role — and his pay grade,” Favale wrote.

Hartenstein could step in immediately and play big minutes for the Nets. If he’s looking to add vital minutes for a rival team, the Nets could be a great landing spot. Also, they have to offer him their mid-level exception. That would be $6.4 million, and while Hartenstein could probably make more money from smaller rosters, the Nets would give him a solid role and a chance to go deep into the playoffs.

Also, Hartenstein gives the Nets an upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, something they desperately need.

As Favale explained, Hartenstein was an underrated defender. He actually ranked at the top of the league in terms of percentage of opponent on the fringes. He is also a good passer, finisher and shooter.

“Opponents shot 47.5 percent against him at the basket – the tightest mark among 163 players to challenge at least 150 attempts,” explained Favale. “And his 19.3 assist rate ranked sixth among centers who averaged 15 minutes or more per game. He’s not a detonative lob threat, but he can finish hard catch-and-lay-ins over the edge and has some outside reach. He managed 14 of his 30 three-point attempts (46.7 percent) and found nylon on nearly 59 percent of his swimmers (55 of 93).

With Claxton potentially leaving Brooklyn this offseason and Drummond hitting the free-agent market, adding depth to the middle position will be crucial for the Nets. Snapping Hartenstein on a relatively cheap contract would give them a reliable all-around center to throw on the pitch in a variety of situations.

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