Should Isaiah Hartenstein be off limits in trade talks?

With the Houston Rockets getting significant contributions from reserve center Isaiah Hartenstein this season, should the Rockets keep Harty out of trade talks?

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Houston Rockets didn’t know if they were going to be able to rely on Isaiah Hartenstein to fill their reserve center spot. Harty seemed to always flourish in the G-League on the Rio Grande Vipers, but he had been unable to earn the attention of Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

But the 21 year-old big man has played well for the Rockets this season, which has earned him increased playing time over the course of the season. Hartenstein has been forced to step up in the absence of Clint Capela, who has missed six games this season.

Over the last three games in which Hartenstein played at least 18 minutes, he’s averaged 14.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, which also includes a double-double in the Rockets’ game against the Denver Nuggets. Not only that, Harty has nabbed double-digit rebounds in two of the three games during that span.

Harty has averaged 14.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per 36 minutes on the year, which has been an example of what the German native can bring to the Rockets if given an opportunity.

It’s clear the 7-foot forward is capable of being the reserve big man that the Rockets truly need, so should he be viewed as part of the Rockets’ long-term future? It’s tough to say, as we know Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is constantly eyeing his next trade, and is always in search of trade assets.

But considering how Hartenstein actually fills a position of need for the Rockets, it would be wise to keep him in a Rockets’ uniform. If the Rockets were to trade Harty, we all know they can’t expect Tyson Chandler to fill in for Clint Capela in the same way Hartenstein is able to. Chandler has had a stellar career, which includes an NBA title and even a Defensive Player of the Year award, but it’s not fair to expect the 37 year-old to contribute much.

It will take discipline for Morey to keep Hartenstein out of trade talks because his stock would certainly seem to be high considering his recent play and his uptick in minutes. On top of that, seven-foot centers don’t grow on trees, so there is always a need for the size Harty possesses. The Rockets are also an example of a team in need of size, so it wouldn’t exactly make sense to give up Harty.

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It’ll be interesting to see what happens because you’d have to think Hartenstein would have value around the league as a promising young big but the Houston Rockets would have a hard time replacing him, especially considering his fairly inexpensive salary. And even if they do trade Harty, his contract doesn’t exactly move the needle much from an outgoing salary standpoint, so the best decision would be to keep him.

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