After almost a month into free agency, Lauri Markkanen has finally found a new home. On Friday he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team sign and trade. The Cavaliers get Markkanen on a new four-year, 67 million dollar contract (16.75 mil per year). The Cavaliers also sent forward Larry Nance Jr. to the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers will trade forward Derrick Jones Jr., as well as a protected first and second-round pick, to the Bulls. This trade has not garnered much attention but will impact these three team’s rotations for next season. Here is a Lauri Markkanen trade recap from each team’s perspective.
The Bulls, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers are close on a three-team deal sending Lauri Markkanen to Cleveland, Larry Nance Jr. to Portland and Derrick Jones Jr., a first-round pick and additional draft compensation to Chicago, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 27, 2021
Lauri Markkanen Trade Recap
For the Cavaliers, this is a good trade for a team in need of talent. While this is an overpay for a player that has disappointed two years in a row, it is worth the gamble. The Cavaliers are not a popular free agent destination, so this is the only way besides the draft that they can upgrade their roster. Markkanen is still only 24 years old, so if he can carve out a big role, he has the ability to bounce back. With Kevin Love likely to be bought out or not play much this season, Markkanen can fill the role of a big man who can stretch the floor (40% 3PT shooting last season). The Cavaliers finished 28th out of 30 teams last year in three-point makes per game, so he will certainly provide good outside shooting at a minimum for this team.
Markkanen will most likely come off the bench behind rookie Evan Mobley, but this might actually be better for him. He can be the focal point of the second unit and will be working with pass-first guard Ricky Rubio. While Cleveland isn’t exactly a perfect landing spot for Markkanen, it is certainly better than his situation in Chicago. Markkanen will look to revive his career in a new situation.
While Portland had to give up a protected first-round pick to get Nance, it was worth it. Nance is an immediate upgrade over Derrick Jones Jr., and he has always been a good starting power forward when given minutes. Jusuf Nurkic has been injury-prone in recent years, and Robert Covington was streaky on offense last year, so this gives Portland another big that they can turn to. With the Blazers having their sights set on a championship, this is a move that upgrades their bench. Nance will be a big part of the Trailblazers rotation for this upcoming season.
For the Bulls, this was really about getting something of value back for Markkanen. They potentially get a first and second-round pick (both picks are protected), as well as a bench player in Derrick Jones Jr. The Bulls already had their starters set coming into the season, and now Jones Jr. gives this team more depth, especially on the defensive end. Considering the Bulls could have lost Markkanen for nothing in free agency, this is a good return.
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