Boston Celtics reporters believe OKC Thunder signing Isaiah Hartenstein makes them C's biggest threat

Isaiah Hartenstein moves the OKC Thunder closer to the Boston Celtics
Isaiah Hartenstein moves the OKC Thunder closer to the Boston Celtics / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Several Boston Celtics reporters see the OKC Thunder's Isaiah Hartenstein signing as a major needle-mover that makes Oklahoma City a significant threat to the Cs during the 2024-25 season and beyond.

"Best competition for the Celtics this year now appears to be out West," said MassLive's Brian Robb.

"OKC going to be a very legit contender," wrote CelticsBlog's Noa Dalzell.

Removing all context but the contract numbers, this can be seen as an overpay. Hartenstein averaged under eight points per game over his two seasons in the Big Apple. But the Thunder had to outbid the New York Knicks for a player who is a much better fit alongside franchise players Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle than Mitchell Robinson. NY had its finances exhausted by the OG Anunoby extension, and the Thunder forced the Knicks front office's hand by dishing out a tad under $30 million over the next three seasons to reel in the German big.

Undoubtedly, adding a player like Hartenstein to OKC gives them a remarkably improved roster. Center was their only weakness -- Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II exploited that during the Western Conference Semifinals -- and Hartenstein is a premier option at the pivot at this point. As previously mentioned, he doesn't put up gaudy scoring numbers, but with Holmgren, Jalen Williams, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, that wasn't a pressing need for the Thunder.

Knicks could be bigger playoff threat to Boston Celtics with Julius Randle return and Mikal Bridges acquisition

The Knicks were a game away from facing the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, but injuries to Brunson, Anunoby, Randle, Josh Hart, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson proved too much to overcome for NY in Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers.

Though losing Hartenstein hurts, getting Randle and Robinson back mitigates that. Acquiring Mikal Bridges also moves the Knicks closer to the top of the Eastern Conference totem pole the Cs lord over.

2024-25 will see more challenges for Boston in the east with the Knicks' returns and the Philadelphia 76ers signing Paul George. Not to mention the Milwaukee Bucks returning Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed their playoff run, which ended in six games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Will all these challenges derail Banner 19 being won in 2025? Stay tuned.