Thunder Mailbag: Digging into Isaiah Hartenstein and DaRon Holmes II Reports

Answering the three best questions submitted to this week’s mailbag.
Nov 13, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) tries to steal the ball form New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) tries to steal the ball form New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals is now two games deep, as 28 of the league's 30 teams are fully focused on the offseason. Later this month, the 2024 NBA Draft will take place, with free agency kicking off shortly after.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, this could be a very pivotal offseason. While this has been a franchise that generally relies on the draft to improve its roster, don't be surprised if the Thunder makes moves in free agency and on the trade market this summer too.

Let’s answer the three best questions that were submitted for this week’s mailbag:


Is Isaiah Hartenstein worth signing to a huge contract this summer?

Let me answer this in two ways. For starters, Hartenstein would significantly increase the Thunder’s ability to make a championship run next season. With his size, physicality, rebounding and positional playmaking, Oklahoma City could deploy a completely new set of schemes in the postseason. For example, the series against the Dallas Mavericks would have looked very different with a player like Hartenstein in the rotation. 

With that in mind, the New York Knicks have every intention of bringing him back in free agency. As such, the Thunder would likely need to spend north of $17 million per season to bring him in on a competitive contract. There have been murmurs that Hartenstein may be looking for $20 million per year, which is certainly rich. At that rate, there may be better ways for OKC to leverage its cap space. 

Do you think the Thunder has actually given DaRon Holmes II a draft promise?

This report was very interesting when it dropped this week. Holmes II is a very good prospect who could have been drafted as early as last summer, but went back to Dayton to improve his game. He developed a reliable perimeter jumper and became a truly dominant player in this recent season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Oklahoma City has interest in him. 

With that in mind, it’s important to consider the verbiage of the report. 

“Some are wondering if the Thunder have given a promise to Holmes, especially after he canceled workouts with teams.”

This means the source of this report isn’t coming from Holmes II’s camp or from the Thunder. Rather, it’s others around the league that are speculating that Oklahoma City could be interested in him — with a promise being hypothesized. There’s nothing concrete here. 

As such, I’d be pretty surprised if the Thunder has given Holmes II a promise at this point in the draft cycle, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he was OKC’s pick when that night comes around given what he brings to the table. 

If you had to guess which player Oklahoma City trades for this summer, who would it be?

Whew, this is a loaded question. There’s a legitimate chance that the Thunder doesn’t trade for a player this offseason. There are other ways to improve the roster. Even if OKC did, pinning down exactly who is even more difficult given the pool of options is the majority of the players in the NBA. 

If I had to choose one player — and maybe this answer is more about who I’d like to see the Thunder trade for — it would be Onkyeka Okongwu. 

Especially if the Atlanta Hawks take a big in the 2024 NBA Draft, Okongwu’s path to thriving in his current situation becomes even more difficult. He does a lot of things the Thunder could leverage and is still just 23 years old on a fairly decent contract for several seasons. 


Note: Questions may be paraphrased in order to group or aggregate similar submissions.


Want to join the discussion? Like Inside the Thunder on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest Thunder news. You can also meet the team behind the coverage.


Published
Nick Crain

NICK CRAIN

Nick has spent the last four seasons covering the Oklahoma City Thunder and has grown quickly in the media since starting. He’s continued to produce Thunder content through writing for Forbes.com and podcasting with The Uncontested Podcast, as well as branching out to cover the NBA as a whole for SLAM Online.