New York Knicks interested in intriguing trade target to replace Isaiah Hartenstein

New York Knicks rumors, Walker Kessler
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

NBA rumors early in the offseason suggested Isaiah Hartenstein would return to the New York Knicks. All of that changed following the Mikal Bridges trade, but losing Hartenstein could open the door to another big trade to find his replacement.

Hartenstein signed a three-year, $87 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, beating out the Knicks’ maximum offer of $72.5 million over four years. With limited cap space, New York faced only a handful of options in NBA free agency to replace Hartenstein.

Related: New York Knicks accused of tampering in Mikal Bridges trade

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Knicks have shown interest in a trade for Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler this summer. New York is also drawn to Charlotte Hornets center Nick Richards.

Walker Kessler8.17.52.423.3.663.131
Isaiah Hartenstein7.

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Kessler, the 22nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, was outstanding in his rookie season. He earned All-Rookie First Team Honors, averaging 2.3 blocks with 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Coming off his second season, Kessler’s name has popped up in NBA trade rumors this season. It’s believed that Utah has been exploring trade options for a second star to pair with Lauri Markkanen. However, if Markkanen is traded for draft picks, the Jazz could more aggressively explore a rebuild.

Also Read: Insider reveals what Utah Jazz wants from Sacramento Kings in Lauri Markkanen trade

In terms of advanced statistics, Kessler ranked 15th among NBA centers in FiveThirtyEight’s WAR (5.3) last season, ahead of Hartenstein (4.5). Utah’s center also placed sixth in Defensive Raptor (+3.1), which ranked just ahead of Hartenstein (3.0).

  • Walker Kessler contract: $2.965 million salary (2024-’25), $4.878 million salary (2025-’26), RFA in 2026

Kessler’s contract is team-friendly and it would arguably make him even more valuable to New York than Hartenstein. However, despite the great fit, it’s unclear just how willing Utah is to move one of its young building blocks.

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