Knicks Trade Proposal Would Land Ideal Isaiah Hartenstein Replacement

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After losing Isaiah Hartenstein in free agency to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks could look to replace him. Having a backup center is important for the Knicks, as Mitchell Robinson has only played in more than 59 games once in the past four seasons.

In a proposed trade from Stephen Noh of The Sporting News, they’d land the ideal replacement by sending two picks and more to the Utah Jazz for Walker Kessler.

Jazz would get: Jericho Sims, 2025 first-round pick via the Detroit Pistons (top-13 protected), 2025 second-round pick via the Brooklyn Nets

“Kessler is one of the best backup big men in the league and is capable of spot starting in a similar role to what Hartenstein provided last season,” Noh wrote on July 9. “The No. 22 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft finished third in Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 2.3 blocks in only 23.0 minutes per game.

“Kessler maintained that elite rim protection in his second season, hitting 2.4 blocks per game. At 7 feet and 245 pounds, he is one of the best rim protectors in the league. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau loves playing those types of defensive-minded centers.”

Knicks Have Had Talks About Kessler: SNY

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the New York Knicks have had conversations with the Utah Jazz about Kessler. However, Begley said that the Jazz are seeking a first-round pick and “assumes” they wouldn’t be able to make a deal.

“The Knicks had been in touch with Utah and had some interest in Walker Kessler, the big man, as a potential solution for them at the backup five,” Begley said on July 8.

“But teams in touch with Utah say the Jazz are looking for at least a first-round pick in return for Kessler in these conversations that had gone on earlier in the offseason. So that’s going to be a tough price for the Knicks to meet or match, and I would assume that they wouldn’t be able to get that deal done.”

He also reported on July 9 that the Jazz had been offered two first-round picks.

How Kessler Would Help the Knicks

Kessler is entering his third season in the NBA and has been a serviceable center in his first two years.

He’s come off the bench for most of his career, appearing in 64 games with just 22 starts last season. He averaged 8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game.

Hartenstein was able to do more on the offensive end, especially as a passer. However, he does other things, and Noh wrote that his ability to grab offensive rebounds could interest New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“Kessler isn’t close to the passer that Hartenstein was. He’s not a shooting threat, but he is very good around the rim,” Noh wrote. “He’s also a great offensive rebounder, which is another way in which he fits the style that Thibodeau likes to play.”

He’d be a great fit on the defensive end with Mikal Bridges and OG Anunoby, as he could block shots behind two of the best wing defenders in the NBA.…Read more by Jon Conahan

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