Cam Reddish and Isaiah Hartenstein’s contributions to the Knicks’ season have been minimal thus far. Is this the beginning of their end in New York?
Let’s begin with the 23-year-old Cam Reddish, who has been buried on the bench for the last month and a half and is a prime candidate to be shipped out of the Big Apple sooner rather than later. The former 10th overall pick in the 2019 draft was acquired by the Knicks almost exactly a year ago from the Hawks in exchange for a protected first-round pick and Kevin Knox and was considered an exciting addition to a young core of ‘Bockers.
The talented 6’7 wing was unable to find his groove in Atlanta, battling injuries and only playing in 118 games in two and a half seasons as a Hawk, in which he averaged 11.1 points per game, per ESPN Stats. There was hope that he could be more useful and consistent in New York; alas, that has not been the case and he currently finds himself in Tom Thibodeau’s doghouse, his days donning the orange and blue numbered. Reddish has been collecting many DNPs recently, not appearing in a game since December 3rd against the Mavs and not scoring in a game since November 30th against the Bucks. Up until that point, Reddish was playing some decent ball, shooting a career-high 44.9% from the field this year, and was on a decent run, scoring 10 plus points in a five-game stretch in mid to late November, including a 26-point performance against the Thunder. His defensive effort had turned up as well and there was some optimism that Cam could find a role on this team. Once Quentin Grimes returned from injury though, his minutes dwindled down and now there is a very good chance we never see #0 on the floor for the Knicks again.
Earlier in the season, there were rumors that Reddish asked for a trade, while he was still getting minutes, rumors which he denied. Once Reddish began to see no action, he again casually denied rumors in early December that his representatives and the Knicks organization were working on a trade. Credit to Reddish for handling this whirlwind of rumors and questions with humility and class.
Cam Reddish was asked about reports that his representatives and the Knicks are working on a trade:
"Y'all seem to know more than me." pic.twitter.com/J696n9f1Cv
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) December 8, 2022
Despite Reddish’s disappearance from the Knicks’ rotation, his market has heated back up again and there have reportedly been teams very interested in his services, most notably the Lakers, who are in desperate need of an infusion of young talent, and his hometown Sixers, who could use another athletic wing. According to Hoops Hype, the Knicks are seeking two second-round picks in return for Reddish. This return isn’t very exciting by any stretch, but at this point, there is no point in hanging on to the former Duke Blue Devil if he isn’t going to play.
Although what the Knicks gave up for Cam Reddish isn’t punitive, it is disappointing to see that he didn’t work out here. Both of the following can be true: Reddish has been somewhat overvalued as a player and just maybe isn’t as good as we all thought he’d be, and the Knicks didn’t do a good enough job developing and finding a role for the talented wing. However you want to slice it, the Reddish experiment simply didn’t work out and it’s time to move on for both parties.
Isaiah Hartenstein is another Knick who could soon receive the Reddish treatment sooner than later. iHart has been up and down this season for the Knicks, who inked the seven-footer to a two-year, $16 million contract this past offseason. The big man was projected to be a nice complement to the rim-running, paint-centric Mitchell Robinson, with his ability to shoot from the outside, space the floor and handle the ball a little bit.
Hartenstein is shooting an abysmal 24.2% from behind the arc and is only contributing 5.1 points per game, his lowest since the 2020-21 season in his time with the Nuggets, per ESPN Stats. On top of his poor perimeter play, the center is making only 54.9% of his shots from within five feet, down from 68% last season, per NBA Stats. This pales in comparison to teammate Jericho Sims, who is shooting a whopping 82% from within five feet. Sims, although a similar skillset to Robinson, has really made a case to move ahead of Hartenstein in the center pecking order. I don’t know if we see Sims officially overtake Hartenstein this year, as he still provides good rim protection and great effort, but keep an eye out for a potential switch if Sims continues to provide quality minutes.
A great place to kickstart Hartenstein getting back in the good graces of Knicks fans and avoid being relegated to the bench is to get the easy things down pat, like scoring in the restricted area. Nobody expects Hartenstein to be a premier scorer or be a staple of the Knicks’ offense, but there is an expectation that he can make a very high percentage of his shots around the rim, as Robinson and Sims do. I think if Hart can convert even a few more easy buckets per game, it will go a long way in winning back the trust and fortifying the second unit even more. After he can do that consistently, he can focus more so on working on his perimeter game.