A new report suggests that the Utah Jazz are open to the idea of trading All-Star Lauri Markkanen as they continue to look to stockpile assets for their rebuild.
For the first half of last season, the Utah Jazz were one of the biggest surprises in the league. Despite trading away top stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell months before, the team was highly competitive and seemed to be well ahead of schedule on their rebuild.
That impressive start did not last and their second-half struggles from last year have continued in 2023. However, over the last season and a half, there has been one notable bright spot: Lauri Markkanen. The former first-round pick was a part of the Mitchell trade and has grown into a legitimate All-Star forward under the guidance of Jazz head coach Will Hardy.
However, with the team off to a bumpy start and still in the early stages of a years-long rebuild, the 26-year-old is no longer the guarantee he once seemed for their long-term plans, according to Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer.
“The Jazz are mired in an 8-16 start, prompting several teams to phone Utah’s front office to gauge its willingness to move Markkanen, sources said. The Jazz are by no means expected to trade the 7-foot sharpshooter at this juncture. He has been a true favorite of Jazz officials, sources said.
“But Utah has indeed left opposing executives with the sense that Markkanen is no longer untouchable in trade conversations, a tangible change from previous transaction windows.”– Jake Fischer
While it may not be highly likely, and sources also told Fischer the price could be steep, with only one year left on his deal after this season it is nowhere near impossible that a trade could happen. With that in mind, here are three teams that could pursue a blockbuster trade in February for Lauri Markkanen.
3 teams that could swing a blockbuster trade for Lauri Markkanen
A Philadelphia 76ers insider told Sportsnaut in November that the team could look for an impact wing player like OG Anunoby before the trade deadline. With the team having reigning MVP Joel Embiid up front, and a growing superstar in Tyrese Maxey running the offense, a talented shooting forward like Markkanen in the middle could be a game-changer.
Furthermore, the Sixers added some key assets in the trade for James Harden that could bolster an offer for the 2022-23 All-Star.
The Miami Heat have consistently been looking for a third star to add to their combo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. While Markannen isn’t a player at the level of Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell — recent Heat targets — he is still young and only getting better.
Furthermore, inking him to a new long-term deal that won’t be outlandish could prove to be beneficial for the organization’s future as an option to replace Butler as the top scorer in the years ahead.
The Houston Rockets have gotten off to a solid start in Ime Udoka’s first season as head coach. However, they severly lack a go-to scorer on the roster currently. Lauri Markkanen would surely be a terrific answer to that problem and they certainly have the young players and draft assets to offer up in a monster package to Utah.