Isaiah Hartenstein’s Draft Night Mystery: A False Narrative Prevailed

Isaiah Hartenstein, in conversation with hosts Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart in the ‘Roommates Show’ podcast, recounted a perplexing incident with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2017 NBA Draft. According to Hartenstein, the Nets engendered a false narrative about a purported knee injury, which led to considerable decrease in his draft ranking. This unforeseen turn of events allegedly brushed away chances of a hefty guaranteed paycheck for the rising star.

Hartenstein confidently stated on the podcast, ‘I’ve never experienced any knee issues at all in my life. The only health concern I’ve ever faced was with my back.’ The confusion was heightened on draft night when his agent inquired about a supposed problem with his knee. Apparently, the Brooklyn Nets raised a ‘red flag’ leading to a decline in his draft status with no tangible explanation.

Perplexed, Hartenstein stated, ‘My agent asked me, ‘What seems to be the issue with your knee?’ I was totally confused, I replied, ‘I have no idea what you’re referring to. As far as I know, my knee is absolutely fine.’ He then informed me about the ‘red flag’ raised by the Brooklyn Nets that led me to lose a few spots in the rankings.’

Losing this spot in the draft adversely affected Hartenstein’s financial prospects for his first few seasons. He claimed he was projected to be among the 15 to 35 range in the draft. Instead, he was chosen 43rd by the Houston Rockets, thanks to the red flag from the Brooklyn Nets. The unexpected twist took him by surprise, costing him significant potential earnings.

Reflecting on the shocking turn of events, Hartenstein shared, ‘On that night, Houston Rockets wished to chat with me. Just a while ago, I was slated to be amongst the top 15 to 35 picks. Seeing the Rockets’ standing at number 43, I was puzzled. I questioned, why they’d want to talk to me? I was nonchalant and frustrated during the Zoom call. But the mystery was solved when it turned out they snapped me up because of the red flag.’

Hartenstein had previously worked out with the Brooklyn Nets before the ill-fated draft. The supposed knee issue, according to him, showed up after his physical assessment with the team. Post-selection, he immediately returned to his birthplace, Germany, to consult with doctors. Their verdict corroborated his belief that nothing was amiss with his knee.

The General Manager of the Nets at the time was Sean Marks, who instead favored another center, Jarrett Allen, for the 22nd pick. The rookie scale stipulates that first-round picks are guaranteed substantial remuneration in their initial two seasons, with added team options for the subsequent two years. In contrast, second-round picks must negotiate a contract with typically fewer guarantees and a comparatively lower salary.

To bring context to Hartenstein’s claims, in the year 2017, the 15th overall pick was insured a total of over $4.3 million in two seasons, which included options worth around $7 million for two additional years. But owing to the ‘red flag’, Hartenstein found himself in the G League playing his first season post-draft.

In his inaugural four seasons, he switched between four different organizations and accumulated approximately $5.6 million in wages. This approximated to an annual earning of about $1.4 million per annum, according to the stats from Spotrac. However, in the 2021-22 tenure, his career underwent a significant turnaround with the Los Angeles Clippers.

His performance with the Clippers culminated into a lucrative two-year, $16 million contract with the New York Knicks. Hartenstein flourished with the Knicks and established himself as their irreplaceable starting center. This season’s performance has been deemed the best in at least a decade by the Knicks foundational standards.

Hartenstein’s impressive stats and performance aligns him for an extravagant financial deal in the upcoming summer as an unrestricted free agent. Owing to salary cap restrictions, the Knicks will likely only be able to extend a starting offer in the $16 million range, due to the early Bird Rights they hold on him. According to projections by ESPN Front Office Insider Bobby Marks, Hartenstein could likely fetch in the range of $13-14 million per annum.

In hindsight, Hartenstein expressed satisfaction with his journey despite the initial hurdles. ‘All’s well that ends well,’ he quipped. However, the memory of his disrupted draft night continues to prick him. The unexpected ‘red flag’ by the Nets and subsequent drop in the drafting order left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Looking back at the eventful draft day, Hartenstein recollected, ‘Post the 35th pick being announced, I was seething in the suites upstairs. My mind spun with questions. ‘Why did they red flag me, why did I tumble so far down?’ Imagine my surprise when, while taking a break in the restroom, my dad rushed in to announce, ‘Isaiah, Houston just picked you.”

Podcast host Josh Hart utilized the opportunity to make a cheeky comparison between the Nets and LA’s Clippers, charitably referring to both as the secondary teams in LA and NY respectively. ‘When you compare performances during West Coast trips between the Lakers and the Clippers, the energy seems worlds apart, despite sharing the same arena. It’s quite similar to the dynamic in New York. Due respect, but no one can compete with the original New York team.’

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Isaiah Hartenstein’s Draft Night Mystery: A False Narrative Prevailed appeared first on Real News Now.

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