Done Deal: knicks confirm the signing of $13 million superstar former all rookie 1st Teamer

In free agency, center Isaiah Hartenstein of the New York Knicks was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mitchell Robinson, the current big man, is accompanied by them. He and his coach have hinted that a significant year is on the horizon.

But Robinson is hard to trust given his history of injuries.

Last season, he appeared in 31 games. Twice in his career, Robinson has made appearances in at least 65 games.
He didn’t do it again until 2021–2022. Armed with that knowledge, the Knicks haven’t stopped looking into potential Hartenstein replacements. 49 of the 75 games the Thunder big man played in last season were starts.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweeted on July 2 that “the Knicks have also made inquiries on the trade market, showing interest in Jazz center Walker Kessler, league sources told HoopsHype.”

In the 2022 draft, Kessler was selected with the 22nd overall choice.

In a season where he started fewer games than in his rookie campaign but played more minutes per game, he finished the previous year with an average of 8.1 points and 7.5 rebounds. In addition, he appeared in 10 less games than the previous season, when he was selected to the All-Rookie First Team.

“Kessler didn’t make as much of a jump as some in Utah had hoped, starting 22 of 64 games in his second season after starting 40 of 74 games as a rookie. But when he did play, Scotto said, “he was incredibly efficient, averaging 12.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks in 36 minutes.”
“Competitive executives feel that Utah would consider offers for Kessler in a trade, but it seemed like he wasn’t for sale last year.”

Even after obtaining Bridges, the Knicks still have the pieces for a trade package for Kessler.
Knicks Could Trade Walker Kessler to Boost Backline Defense

Kessler would not offer Hartenstein’s attacking versatility. He is a better rim protector, though. His career average of blocks is 2.4. That is a record Robinson has only once in his career—during his debut season in 2018–19—and it surpasses anything Hartenstein has ever scored.

Kessler’s four-year, $13.4 million rookie scale contract is still in effect for the next two years. In 2024–2025 and 2025–2026, he will deduct $2.9 million and $4.9 million from the cap, respectively.
After that, the 7-footer will be eligible for restricted free agency.
That means he will have three more seasons under team control before he is expected to make a potentially large financial commitment. Sensible adjustments around the margins will be crucial to rounding out the roster after the Knicks acquired Mikal Bridges.
The Knicks Could Face Penalties Under the CBA

Following the Bridges trade, ESPN’s Bobby Marks—a former Brooklyn Nets executive—analyzed the Knicks’ financial future. Currently, they are classified as a luxury tax team, but when they hit the first tax apron, they had less than $7 million in space.

Under the terms of the new CBA with the NBA, teams are subject to varied degrees of punitive actions. Limited buying power would be the most detrimental after surpassing the initial apron.
Keith Smith of Spotrac produced a visual that illustrates the dangers of exceeding each tax bracket.
The Knicks still need to find a competent replacement for Hartenstein and work out an extension for Jalen Brunson. Their profundity is crucial. If not, they face a risk akin to that of the previous campaign, when injuries decimated their postseason chances.

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