NBA transfer rumors: Walker Kessler arouses interest from the New York Knicks

Transfer rumors surrounding the Utah Jazz front office continue to roil as Walker Kessler’s name is now being thrown around in trade talks.

Lauri Markkanen is quickly becoming the hottest commodity on the market as teams from across the NBA enter a bidding war and compete on Danny Ainge's favorite game show: “Who wants to pay too much for a millionaire?”

But while the rest of the league is fully focused on Utah’s Finnish prodigy, the New York Knicks – driven by the Power of friendship– are reportedly looking to sign Walker Kessler, the third-year basket protector. According to Michael Scotto of hopfenhype.comFilling the void created by Isaiah Hartenstein's move to OKC has become a top priority for Tom Thibadeau's roster, and Walker Kessler has been singled out as the perfect addition.

Dealing with Utah CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge is always a tricky business. When he came on the scene, trading Gobert and Mitchell was at the top of his to-do list, but he set a clear precedent: If he traded away stars, he'd have to be paid the moon (or maybe it's the other way around. You get the idea). Trading Utah's All-Star duo generated a ton of draft capital that drove the transfer market to obscene heights for the rest of the summer.

To put it simply, the Jazz aren't going to give up their young big man for a pittance – the Knicks have to make it worth their while. Although Kessler's value has dropped noticeably since his outstanding rookie season, which sparked some outrageous debate in NBA circles (Kessler for Gobert directlyanyone?) Kessler's increased availability should be felt in trade negotiations, according to Scotto:

At Utah, Kessler felt a bit underwhelmed after the injury he suffered earlier in the season. In his absence, John Collins came into the lineup, displacing Kessler from the starting position he had held for most of his rookie season.

From a fan perspective, sentiment toward Kessler is still largely positive. The dreaded “Sophomore Slump” isn't always avoidable, but his basket defense is still top-notch among players his age. He still has a lot of room for improvement on offense, and that's something New York could bank on if they want to compete for a title this season.

I often felt like the victim of a social experiment as I watched Kessler's numbers and minutes plummet after his rookie season, in which he played a Gobert-like role as Utah's defensive anchor. Did everyone know something about Kessler that I didn't? Had he declined so much, or did his skills no longer fit Will Hardy's philosophy? Could I possibly be the only anyone who still believes in Walker Kessler?

Before I get caught up in a bottomless pit of hypotheticals, we can lean on what we know to be true. If New York has Kessler in its sights as a trade target, the big man is still valuable. I hope Kessler returns to the floor for Utah in his third season. But as in the case of Markkanen, it may be best to take the assets and walk away when an irrefutable offer comes across the table.