3 Centers the Nuggets should have traded for at deadline

Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images /
2 of 3
Denver Nuggets
Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images /

Center No. 2: Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks

Another former Nuggets center shows up on the list, as Isaiah Hartenstein got some run in Denver back when NBA teams seemed to think he was a below-replacement-level center. Despite good metrics in short bursts he was dumped on the Cavaliers, who let him walk and sign for peanuts on the Clippers. He parlayed a breakout season in LA for a two-year deal last offseason with the New York Knicks.

Hartenstein has continued to play well for the Knicks and is a strong rim protector, but offensively he’s being wasted in Tom Thibodeau’s scheme. Hartenstein is a really good passer (for a human center) and excels in the dribble-handoff game, which the Knicks never use. The Knicks didn’t trade him at the deadline, but with Mitchell Robinson signed long-term and third-string center Jericho Sims coming along, he was likely available.

If Mason Plumlee would be Jokic lite on the second unit, Hartenstein would be Plumlee lite offensively, a similarly gifted passer but not the same scoring threat inside. That being said, he is miles better as an interior defender, which would give the Nuggets a second rim protector after Aaron Gordon.

Those same second-round picks could have been used to trade for Hartenstein, and his $7.8 million contract would be a bit simpler to match than Plumlee’s. Hartenstein is also under contract for next season, which could have locked down the spot for this year and next.