Cavs rumors: Barcelona is targeting Isaiah Hartenstein

Cleveland Cavaliers big Isaiah Hartenstein blocks a shot. (Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Isaiah Hartenstein blocks a shot. (Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

With what he was able to provide for the Cleveland Cavaliers following this prior season’s trade deadline after being acquired from the Denver Nuggets, it appears that Isaiah Hartenstein is set to decline his $1.8 million player option for next season.

Now, Hartenstein has not had a boatload of NBA playing experience. He played in a total of 51 games in his first two seasons with the Houston Rockets, and most of his meaningful playing time with Houston came with their G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

With them though, Hartenstein did make his presence felt in a big way, and in 2019, was the G League Finals MVP.

For Hartenstein again though, there wasn’t much PT there and he was waived last offseason. He would end up signing a two-year, minimum deal with the Nuggets before the start of this current season (from Denver’s standpoint), and the second season was set to have a player option.

With Denver, Hartenstein had 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 9.1 minutes per outing in 30 appearances pre-deadline, albeit there was not much PT still, even with some of a role. Nonetheless, with Nikola Jokic there, the 2020-21 NBA MVP, that was understandable.

Then from there, Hartenstein was acquired by the Cavs via trade, along with two future second-round picks, in exchange for JaVale McGee, and it wasn’t necessarily clear what Cleveland was getting with him. The now-23-year-old reserve 5 did play well for Cleveland in 16 appearances post-deadline, though.

In said appearances he played well, and mostly before Hartenstein would end up missing plenty of the closing batch of the season for Cleveland because of a concussion and seemingly due to Anderson Varejao’s hardship exception signing, too.

With the Cavs, Hartenstein took advantage of more opportunities, and averaged 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 blocks in 17.9 minutes per game.

And to me, with the touch, rolling/screening, his surprising passing feel/vision, rebounding activity and interior defensive presence, Hartenstein is a player that’d be nice to have stick around with the Cavaliers. It would seem that he’ll probably decline his player option, on that subject, but I still would think he could be re-signed for perhaps a two-year deal for say, $4-5 million per season?

For Hartenstein, though, he hasn’t had a ton of NBA experience overall, and Jarrett Allen seems to be Cleveland’s long-term answer at the starting 5. So in a general sense, perhaps Hartenstein would entertain playing overseas for a bit next.

If that’s a possibility, a team that reportedly has interest in Hartenstein is Spanish club Barcelona, per Basketball Rumors EU and per Sam Amico of HoopsWire, OutKick and Forty Eight Minutes.

Amico stated this in relation to Hartenstein as a potential free agency addition for Barcelona, and indicated that Hartenstein is “expected to opt out” of his player option, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.

"“Spanish club Barcelona is targeting Cavaliers center Isaiah Hartenstein as a potential offseason addition, per HoopsWire sources.Barcelona is likely to ‘put on a full-court press’ for Hartensetin, including asking veteran NBA center Pau Gasol reach out in a recruiting effort, one source said. Gasol spent this past season playing for Barcelona.Hartenstein, 22, is 7-foot-0 and appeared in 16 games with the Cavs after a late-season trade with the Nuggets.”‘"

Amico then stated in his report that teams overseas are “likely to offer Hartenstein more money than he will receive in NBA free agency, and providing an ‘NBA out’ in his contract may be enough for him to head overseas.”‘

We’ll have to see as far as these Cavs rumors involving Hartenstein, however, who is a good reserve 5.

As we touched on, Hartenstein, when he was healthy for Cleveland, was a more than capable reserve 5, in particular. There were some youthful moments at times on-ball/as a passer, sure, and he needs to work on contesting interior looks without fouling.

With Cleveland in that 16-game sample size, he had 5.6 fouls per-36 minutes. So that’s a clear point of emphasis moving forward for him, as we know.

But he is a true 7-footer, and his presence in rotational minutes was felt on the interior on both ends of the floor, and is a shot blocking/altering big, of which can aid others on the Cavaliers.

As we also hit on, he was a good screener/roller to have in the fold too, and next season, if he’s back, we could see him get lobs from the likes of Darius Garland and others out of the PnR. Plus, his cutting provided a boost.

And while there hasn’t been much displayed in NBA action, Hartenstein could have floor spacing potential; albeit there needs to be steps taken there in coming years.

Anyway, we’ll have to see if these rumors/reports of him potentially playing overseas next, whether that’s with Barcelona or other clubs, end up being being legitimized this offseason. Amico himself did state how the Cavaliers could very well look to bring him back, too, as an aside.

Amico’s report noting how an “NBA out” could be involved for Hartenstein potentially accepting an offer to play overseas next, sure, but based on the opportunity the Cavs gave him before his concussion, I’d think he could definitely be back. I’d be somewhat surprised if he’s not, honestly.

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Again though, we’ll see.