6 big men the Rockets can still sign in free agency
3. Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein is the most recognizable name on this list among Houston Rockets fans, as he spent his first two NBA seasons in the Space City. Hartenstein became a fan favorite, as many within the Rockets fanbase clamored for former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to give the 22-year-old more playing time.
The 7-foot center started for the Rockets for two games during the 2019-20 season, posting averages of 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks during his two starts, while making 85 percent of his combined 20 field goals. Hartenstein also led the Rockets’ G-League affiliate Rio Grande Vipers to the 2019 championship, and he was the Finals MVP, as he posted averages of 28 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 51 percent shooting from the floor.
Hartenstein has proven to be able to dominate on the boards, as he led the G-League in rebounds per game during the 2018-19 season with 14.8 rebounds. Hartenstein also played well during the 2019-20 season, as he posted gaudy averages of 27.6 points, 16.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Harty has demonstrated the ability to be a rim protector, and especially as a reserve.
Hartenstein was recently released so the Rockets could create roster space for David Nwaba, and remains a free agent, although there have been reports of the Denver Nuggets having interest in his services. With Harty’s familiarity with the Rockets and his presumably low salary demands, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone would be wise to give him a call.
Next: No. 2