Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaiah Hartenstein wanting to re-sign is a relief

Earlier this week, it was reported that Spanish club Barcelona was set to be targeting current Cleveland Cavaliers big Isaiah Hartenstein as a potential free agency target.

Hartenstein did not show interest in having intent himself of pursuing that possibility, but in the event he would end up declining his $1.8 million player option and could reportedly an “NBA out,” it was understandable that he could maybe entertain playing overseas.

Fortunately, as a Cavaliers fan, that possibility/rumor didn’t end up holding water too long, if you will. That wasn’t suprising, really, either.

Albeit on the subject, per a report from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com in which he was responding to mailbag questions, he stated the following regarding Hartenstein. As a brief note, he did touch on that Cleveland might look for another center if Hartenstein isn’t back; that doesn’t seem that likely, though and Hartenstein likes his current situation as Jarrett Allen’s backup.

“Isaiah Hartenstein, who arrived in the JaVale McGee deal with Denver, has a player option. Sources expect him to exercise that and become a free agent. Hartenstein, who made the minimum this past season, likes it in Cleveland. But he boosted his value over the final few months and opting in would make him underpaid at $1.7 million. Hartenstein’s preference, according to sources, is to renegotiate a more lucrative long-term deal, staying with the Cavs as Allen’s backup.”

Just as a brief note, in terms of external free agency targets with the roughly $10 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, while the likes of Dean Wade and/or Lamar Stevens are seemingly likely to trim that MLE down a bit, T.J. McConnell or Alex Caruso, could be sensible.

Fedor’s report stated how they’re potential targets for the Cavs this offseason, for what it’s worth, and suggested several other targets. And while Fedor alluded to the defensive struggles for Doug McDermott, I’d be a fan of his with Cleveland as well, given his sharpshooting capabilities.

Anyway, circling back to Hartenstein’s outlook, though, it’s nice to know that the young 5 man is interested in re-signing with the Cavaliers, again, with him likely to opt out.

Hartenstein reportedly wanting to re-sign with the Cavs is a relief.

Following his trade acquisition from the Denver Nuggets near the past deadline, Hartenstein took advantage of having a legitimate role, in which he hadn’t had previously at the NBA level, and was a quality pickup. That was to go with two future second-round picks in exchange for JaVale McGee.

Before being out for a number of Cleveland’s closing batch of games due to a concussion, Hartenstein had 8.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 blocks in 17.9 minutes per game in 16 appearances with the Cavs.

Hartenstein’s finishing touch as a roller/cutter, an occasional low-post scorer, and with push shots jumped out in his rotational minutes, and his passing feel was very impressive as a backup 5, too. That’s something that I’d think should give the Wine and Gold a lift next season/perhaps looking onward as well, and it proved to be a meaningful wrinkle in his minutes-share.

As far as the defensive end, Hartenstein does need to trim down on his fouls (5.6 fouls per-36 minutes with Cleveland), but with more experience, I do believe there can be further growth in that realm. And as a backup 5, it’s not a huge issue, realistically.

The true 7-footer is a viable rotational rim protector too, on the plus side, and in the event he is back, perhaps via two or three-year deal at maybe $4-5 million per season, his presence as a shot alterer should help others when he’s in there.

Moreover, while we’ll have to see ultimately what plays out with Hartenstein, factoring in Fedor’s report/comments, I’d think he and the Cavs will likely figure something out and that he’ll be re-signed, again assuming he opts out.

And that’s reassuring to me, given what he showcased when he was able to get meaningful playing time for spurts/stretches with Cleveland post-deadline. There could feasibly be some untapped potential with him, and maybe even as a catch-and-shoot threat from three-point range, even.

To drive it home, Hartenstein’s interest in returning to the Cavaliers is a relief, and I’m sure that opinion is shared by many Cavs fans and other guys on the Wine and Gold.