The New York Knicks’ offseason has been mostly quiet as they await the next star to demand a trade, although one of the notable moves that occurred was Josh Hart opting into his $12.9 million player option for 2023-24.
Hart invigorated the team after he was acquired in a February deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting a blistering 52% from three in the blue and orange. The Knicks finished the regular season with a record of 17-8 in contests he suited up in.
While Hart’s desire to remain in New York was apparent, many fans wondered whether he would opt out and secure a long-term deal with the franchise or opt in and work on an extension over the summer. With reports already swirling about potential contract details, it appears he’s chosen the latter.
A four-year extension may seem like a risk for a player with just 36 total appearances for the team, but the Knicks front office won’t be regretting their decision anytime soon.
3 reasons why the Knicks should be excited about extending Josh Hart
3: Rebounding talent
It’s not an exaggeration to claim that Hart is one of the best rebounders in the NBA relative to his size. Among players who appeared in at least 10 games last season, Hart’s 1.9 offensive rebounds per game ranked first among everyone 6’5″ and shorter.
Starting center Mitchell Robinson and backup Isaiah Hartenstein are two of the best in the league at boxing out, with Hart taking full advantage of the increased opportunities to crash the glass. He’s not afraid to get physical himself, however, leading the NBA in contested rebounds by a guard.
This past season wasn’t an anomaly either, as the former Villanova Wildcat has averaged at least 7.0 rebounds per game every year since 2020. His ball-tracking skills are phenomenal, seemingly ending up in the right place at the right time on every missed shot.
Crashing the offensive glass to create second and third opportunities is one of the Knicks’ principles, and it’s a major reason why they had the third-highest offensive rating in the association last year. Hart’s contributions in the second half of the season deserve some credit for that.
His talent at securing boards also allows more lineup flexibility for head coach Tom Thibodeau, as he won’t have to worry about any major rebounding drop-off when inserting Hart into small-ball lineups at the power forward spot.