Knicks will need to sacrafice a first-round pick for Jazz trade target

Dec 13, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) dunks the ball against the New York Knicks during the third quarter at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are actively searching the trade market for a potential solution at the center position behind Mitchell Robinson. Following the departure of Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a three-year, $87 million deal, New York finds themselves reliant on Robinson, who has only managed to play over 70 games once in his career.

Robinson’s Role and Trade Rumors

Robinson is set to have a $14.3 million salary cap impact next season. Although there were whispers of a possible trade involving him, these rumors have subsided with Hartenstein’s move.

Knicks’ Potential Acquisition: Walker Kessler

The Knicks have reportedly expressed interest in Utah Jazz’s center Walker Kessler. At just 22 years old and in his third NBA season, Kessler, who ranked third in Rookie of the Year voting in the 2022-23 season, shows significant promise. His performance improved this past season, playing 64 games with averages of 8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks, while shooting .654 from the field.

Walker Kessler, Knicks
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

However, acquiring Kessler might come at a high cost. Ian Begley of SNY reports that the Jazz is seeking a first-round pick for him—a steep price considering Leon Rose’s recent trade involving five first-round selections for Mikal Bridges.

“The Knicks had been in touch with Utah, had had some interest in Walker Kessler, the big man, as a potential solution at the backup five,” Begley said. “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 have gone on earlier in the offseason.”

Other Trade Possibilities and Free Agent Considerations

The Knicks are also keeping in touch with Precious Achiuwa, who has shown his capability as a rotational player, averaging 7.6 points and 7.2 rebounds over 49 games last season with the Knicks. Despite being slightly undersized for a center, Achiuwa’s versatility makes him a viable option at both power forward and center.

Feb 27, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, the Knicks might explore other trade targets, such as Nick Richards from the Charlotte Hornets or perhaps a more costly option like Jalen Duren of the Detroit Pistons.

Given the history of dealings between the Knicks and Pistons, a new trade could be on the table to bolster one of the Knicks’ weaker spots while offering Detroit assets like scoring guard Miles McBride and future draft picks.

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