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Magic Target Isaiah Hartenstein Signs with Eastern Conference Rival

Hartenstein was linked to the Magic in the days leading up to free agency.

Before signing Mo Bamba to a two-year deal, the Orlando Magic were linked to former Los Angeles Clippers big man Isaiah Hartenstein.

Now, the coveted free agent center has, according to The Athletic, inked a two-year, $16 million-plus deal with the New York Knicks, a salary that's fully guaranteed. Hartenstein is coming off a breakout season with the Clippers, setting new career-bests (8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds) in 68 games off the bench.

The seven-foot, 24-year-old German American paint threat has gone through a nomadic career since entering the league in the second round of the 2017 draft after several years on the German and Lithuanian circuits. Though he made an impact in the G League, notably winning the championship series' MVP award with Houston's affiliate in 2019 (previously won by current Toronto star Pascal Siakam), he struggled to find an NBA home. Hartenstein through Houston, Denver, and Cleveland before the Clippers called last September.

Primarily backing up Ivica Zubac, Hartenstein became one of the most reliable reserve bench players in the league, He will likely fulfill a similar role in New York after the Clippers re-upped with Zubac: the Knicks are reportedly close to landing a long-term deal with Mitchell Robinson, their reliable starting center who was set to be one of the more intriguing free agents in the paint.

With one of the biggest mysteries for the Magic solved in the first hour of free agency, attention now shifts to where veteran wing Gary Harris will go, and who, if anyone, will replace him in Orlando.