Jazz reject 2 first-round picks for Walker Kessler amid Knicks buzz

Jazz reject 2 first-round picks for Walker Kessler amid Knicks buzz

The Utah Jazz are reportedly unwilling to part ways with Walker Kessler.

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the team rejected offers for the young big man that included two first-round picks returning to the Jazz, though it’s unclear if those picks were protected.

The New York Knicks are among the teams interested in Kessler, though it’s hard to imagine the team giving up that kind of draft capital after clearing out the cupboard for Mikal Bridges.

Kessler, 22, was the 22nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft and has been solid, if unspectacular, over his two seasons, averaging 8.7 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 138 games (62 starts).

Two first-round picks is a steep price to pay for that level of production, given the potential protections involved, though Kessler’s ability to impact the game as a rim protector surely played a major role in his seemingly robust market.

The Knicks, meanwhile, may need a backup center after losing Isaiah Hartenstein in free agency to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hartenstein emerged as a key player for the Knicks last season, especially with Mitchell Robinson playing just 31 games, averaging 7.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, and putting up excellent defense.

As for other possible options at the backup 5 position, Begley noted that Precious Achiuwa is a possible target for the Nets:

The Jazz have become an interesting team to watch this summer, as they are clearly in a rebuilding phase. That has made Lauri Markkanen a popular trade target for suitors who missed out on players like Bridges, Paul George and Dejounte Murray this summer, though he remains with the Jazz for now and is eligible for an extension on August 6.