OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein are set to enter free agency. The Knicks absolutely must re-sign them both.

The 2023-24 season came with a lot of ups and downs for the New York Knicks, from clinching the No. 2 seed in the regular season and making it to the playoffs to heartbreaking key injuries that cut their playoff run short. Regardless, I think the city can agree that this team is special and worth taking another shot at the title again with next season. But what exactly do the Knicks have to do in the off-season in order to get another run going?

For starters, it comes as no surprise that re-signing OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein should be at the top of their priorities. Other teams in the league are well aware of just how special both these players are and what they bring to the table. That being said, New York should act quickly in order to secure their spots again in the roster. Let’s dive in and take a deeper look into both of these players’ contributions and contracts.

OG Anunoby

After the Knicks decided to trade RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to the Toronto Raptors for OG Anunoby, he instantly proved himself as a game-changer. OG’s talents are on another level with his two-way production. More specifically, his abilities to guard players of any caliber and create space on the floor in the starting lineup were just exactly what the Knicks needed to level up.

New York went 20-3 in the regular-season games that Anunoby played during the regular season. The team kicked off his addition with a record of 12-2 with massive wins against big-time teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat. I think it goes without saying that the January Knicks will forever remain in our hearts.

The Knicks were rolling until the Miami game, where they suffered massive injuries to Anunoby and Julius Randle. From there, their contributions were put on hold while most of the reigns were taken by All-Star Jalen Brunson. This also allowed for the growth of other role players such as Josh Hart, who skyrocketed with stellar rebounding numbers; Donte DiVincenzo, who flaunted his impeccable knack for firing threes; and Miles McBride, who showed his value and reliability off the bench.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has a defensive mindset, making it all the more sense to re-sign OG. His versatility as a defender and as an aggressive scorer only makes him more fitting of New York’s culture. We’ve seen just how capable he is when he’s on the defensive front whether it be slowing down Joel Embiid’s physical intensity and Tyrese Maxey’s speed during the playoffs. OG does this through a combination of smart and quick instincts, strength, and resiliency. Such specialties allow him to adjust accordingly based on his matchup in an adept way.

Zeroing in on OG’s contract, he still has yet to give the green or red light on the $19.9 million player option that he has for the 2024-25 season by June 24th. However, he’s unlikely to do this and instead choose to become a free agent. The Knicks can sign him to a max deal for $245 million for five years. Other teams that are keeping an eye on the elite wing defender feature the Sixers and the Oklahoma City Thunder — and they’re ready to make huge offers. So, the Knicks better act fast.

Isaiah Hartenstein

We all know just how dependable Isaiah Hartenstein is after he stepped up for Mitchell Robinson. The Blockness Monster was badly hurt with an ankle injury and had to undergo surgery, so iHart took the starting role and played at a high level, guarding the ball with all his might. He’s exceptional in the pick-and-roll with none other than JB, able to create just enough space for him to get the flow going for a bucket. The glass-cleaner averaged 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.2 steals per game and had his second-most efficient shooting year from the field at 64.4% from the field within the regular season.

Still, he also faced a terrible injury with his sore Achilles that nagged at him all year long and continued to step up in the playoffs as any good team player would. He battled this ache against big men such as Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam. Hartenstein’s strong frame and high-post touches accentuated his floaters and his overall offensive threat within the key. So, if the Knicks want to secure a solid five, this is the guy.

When looking at iHart’s contract, New York has his Early Bird rights, which grants them to exceed the salary cap in order to re-sign him. However, this comes with a disadvantage as well. It limits their offer to a particular amount of roughly $72.5 million over four years. It is important to note, too, that other teams are also interested in picking up Hartenstein. Such teams include the Thunder, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic, who were also interested in him when he was last a free agent. Thus, it’s essential that the Knicks ink Hartenstein in this summer as he enters free agency.

All in all, if there are any two players that the Knicks absolutely need to pass the pen to, it’s definitely OG and iHart.

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