Updated Knicks center depth chart (or lack thereof) after losing Hartenstein

What will the Knicks do?
New York Knicks, Isaiah Hartenstein
New York Knicks, Isaiah Hartenstein / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After losing Isaiah Hartenstein to the Thunder in free agency, the New York Knicks have a center problem. New York offered Hartenstein the full four-year, $72.5 million deal it could, but he understandably went with Oklahoma City's three-year, $87 million offer. You can't turn down money like that.

In Hartenstein's first season in New York, he played all 82 regular-season games. In 2023-24, he played 75. A sore Achilles caused his minutes to drop, but he kept the Knicks afloat after Mitchell Robinson had ankle surgery in December. Some say that availability is the best ability, and Hartenstein missed only seven regular-season games as a Knick.

The front office now has to pivot and look elsewhere. Robinson was the team's starting center before he had surgery, but with the Knicks going all-in with the Mikal Bridges trade and re-signing OG Anunoby, they could explore other options.

Knicks' depth chart after losing Isaiah Hartenstein to Thunder

Here's what New York's depth at center looks like:

- Starter: Mitchell Robinson

- Backup: Jericho Sims (Knicks picked up his option for 2024-25)

- Rookie: Ariel Hukporti (No. 58 draft pick)

The Knicks didn't extend a qualifying offer to Precious Achiuwa, but they still own his Bird Rights and could bring him back. He was an overlooked part of the Anunoby trade but played significant minutes for New York during the second half of the regular season. He's received interest from teams other than the Knicks, though.

Robinson's name has been involved in trade rumors, but maybe that's a route New York isn't considering anymore now that Hartenstein is gone. Robinson underwent ankle surgery again after he tweaked his ankle in the playoffs, and his health is a concern.

If the Knicks keep Robinson and he gets hurt, who will be his replacement? Sims is athletic, but he hasn't proven that he's worthy of being the team's starting center. He hasn't even been the primary backup center. Achiuwa would help, but it's hard to envision him successfully stepping in as the starting center if Robinson goes down.

Maybe the front office has something up their sleeve. The free-agent center market has rapidly dried up, but it's not like the Knicks didn't know Hartenstein would leave. All that's left to do is trust Leon Rose.

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