Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein has decided not to exercise his player option for the 2021-22 season and will become a free agent, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The minimum-salary option would’ve paid Hartenstein about $1.76M.
Multiple reports in June indicated that Hartenstein was expected to opt out, so his decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Those reports also suggested that the 23-year-old was a good bet to work out a new deal with the Cavaliers rather than leaving Cleveland for a new team.
Hartenstein is eligible for restricted free agency, which will give the Cavs some control over the process and increases the likelihood that he sticks around. The team will have to issue a qualifying offer worth about $2.03M to avoid having him become an unrestricted free agent.
Hartenstein began the 2020-21 season in Denver, but played limited minutes with the Nuggets and was sent to Cleveland as part of the JaVale McGee trade at the March deadline. In 16 games with the Cavs, Hartenstein recorded 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.2 BPG in 17.9 minutes per contest. All of those averages represent career highs.
The Cavs’ frontcourt figures to undergo some changes this offseason, whether or not Hartenstein returns. Like Hartenstein, Jarrett Allen will be eligible for restricted free agency, though Cleveland is expected to bring him back. Kevin Love is considered very available in trade talks, and the club may end up adding big man Evan Mobley with the No. 3 pick in the draft.