While the Brooklyn Nets are gearing up to make another run at the NBA championship, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still trying to tinker with their lineup with the hope of getting close to a postseason spot. Their latest move doesn’t look like good news for either Kevin Love or free agent Isaiah Hartenstein.
Despite giving Jarrett Allen nine figures and drafting Evan Mobley, the Cavaliers agreed to acquire Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls via a sign-and-trade at the expense of Larry Nance. With so many pieces in the frontcourt, a buyout for Love appears more likely than it did a few weeks ago.
The Nets rumors have long hinted they would be interested in Love if he were to get bought out, but he isn’t the only player from last year’s Cavs team that could end up in black and white those offseason, as Hartenstein remains firmly on the Nets radar.
After the Cavaliers renounced their rights to Hartenstein in order to add Mobley to the roster, the former second-round pick in 2017 has been looking for a home next year. If the Nets are able to offload DeAndre Jordan, a player like Hartenstein could fill the void, per Brian Lewis at the New York Post.
Brooklyn Nets rumors: Will the Nets sign Isaiah Hartenstein?
Hartenstein, who was a teammate of James Harden during his days in Houston, averaged 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game during his time with the Cavaliers. After bouncing around the G League, Hartensteing finally found a team that could benefit from his talents as a rim protector and interior scorer.
Hartenstein made the Cavaliers better on both ends when he was on the floor, as he was able to be productive during his first extended playing time in the NBA.
Griffin is the starter, Day’Ron Sharpe has made a very convincing case for minutes behind him, and Jordan is still hanging around despite the fact that he was completely eliminated from the rotation.
Hartenstein wouldn’t kick down the door and demand playing time, but based on what he did in Cleveland, and the fact he’s just 23, his best basketball is ahead of him, not in the rear-view mirror.
Love is still a valuable offensive piece despite his age, but his defense is poor at this point in his career, and the decision to re-sign Griffin makes adding another big man with Love’s skillset a bit redundant. Hartenstein would at least give the Nets some more variety in their rotation.
Love might have a connection with players like Kevin Durant due to their stint with Team USA, and Love would without question provide better immediate production, but if the Nets want to take a gamble on long-term production, Hartenstein is the guy.
With the cash-strapped Nets, already deep into the luxury tax, likely to only offer the minimum for either player, Hartenstein might be able to use that minimum deal as a “prove it” contract that helps him when his number comes up in free agency next season.
If he can provide the height, shot-blocking, and rebounding that the Nets need from their backups while producing at a similar clip to what he showed in Cleveland, Hartenstein could earn a very lucrative multi-year contract considering how young he is. Producing on a championship team will always drive the price up.
The Nets might get another veteran that can shoot if they add love, but Hartenstein might be a better fit given what their immediate issues are at the moment. If Brooklyn wants to make one more addition before the season starts, it looks like it will be one of these 2 former Cleveland bigs.