The activities of the free NBA agencies fizzled out after many teams had used up all of their available cap space. However, there is one situation that may not be resolved anytime soon: Lauri Markkanen and the Chicago Bulls are at a stalemate over his imminent future.

The limited free representation of Markkanen was a nightmare for the seven-foot-tall Finnish great. Many teams turned to other options after Markkanen overestimated its value in the open market. The fact that the cops were able to fill every bid sheet for the 24-year-old likely put some teams off as well.

The Charlotte Hornets were very interested in Markkanen and were reportedly preparing a bid sheet for the bulls power forward. At the last minute, Charlotte took a different route and signed Kelly Oubre Jr. for a two-year deal. The San Antonio Spurs also poked around asking about Markkanen, but decided against taking him on board in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade with Chicago.

In the 2017/18 season Markkanen was one of the best rookies in the 2017 NBA draft class. With an average of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in just under 30 minutes per game, while he shot 36.2% on three-pointers, seemed Markkanen to be a long-term building block for the bulls. However, in the past three years, the former No. 7 overall pick hasn’t shown much more.

His averages over the past three seasons were almost identical to those of his rookie year: 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 36.9% of three in 29.3 minutes. While the former Arizona Wildcat finally improved its three-point efficiency (40.3% shoots from depth) in 2020-21, it is stagnating everywhere else. Markkanen is worth more than $ 15 million a year if he does is a below average rebounder and an even worse defender? The quick answer is no, and the teams seem to agree on how they approached the early stages of Markkanen’s freelance agency.

Chicago is ready to let Markkanen go, but they’re playing hard. The bulls want a future round first election while not taking the salary back in a possible sign-and-trade scenario. Not only does this limit the pool of teams, but it also requires the franchise that Markkanen wants to give up additional design capital that they may not want to give up.

At this point, Markkanen’s return to the Windy City for his fifth season is certainly on the table. Markkanen’s qualifying offer is $ 9 million. So this could be a scenario where he signs the dotted line and then becomes an unrestricted free agent in the next off-season.

However, if Markkanen fulfills his wish with a fresh start somewhere else, which teams make the most sense for him? Let’s explore several possible landing sites.


If a team wants to participate in a sign-and-trade for marketers, it must have one of these two things: a traded player exception (TPE) or a salary cap spot. At this point there are very few teams with enough leeway to give Markkanen an annual salary in excess of $ 10 million, so the TPE could be the best bet to take a step up from.

Dallas certainly fits the bill as they have a $ 10.9 million TPE. Markkanen plans to sign a three-year deal that pays just $ 1.9 million more than his qualification offer? Unless he is determined never to return to Chicago, this is not the best financial move for marcans.

If the Mavericks wanted to acquire Markkanen while saving their TPE, they’d have to outsource Dwight Powell’s $ 11 million salary for 2021-22 plus one more piece. For example, to meet the Bulls’ own demands, Dallas Chicago sends a heavily protected future first-round pick while a team ready to absorb a hefty salary (like the Oklahoma City Thunder) pits Powell and everything else while their own Draft compensation for courtesy.

In terms of Markkanen’s fit, Dallas certainly stands out as the best remaining. With the potential to start alongside Kristaps Porzingis in the Power Forward, Markkanen would play a role with low consumption as an expansive giant that could open up the floor even further to Luka Doncic. The defensive between Markkanen and Porzingis is potentially terrible, but the offensive could be further heightened with the arrival of the Finnish product.


New Orleans currently has the largest traded player exemption in the NBA after Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe were unloaded in a draft day trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, and they can use their $ 17.1 million TPE to make marketers at a price that works for both parties.

The Pelicans will have to keep adding perimeter shooters alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. It’s not enough at the moment. Even though they acquired Devonte ‘Graham via sign-and-trade and moved the Trey Murphy III sniper wing to 17th overall, they have to keep adding to their arsenal. Markkanen would certainly be fit for the role as he switched off the bench about 25 minutes per game in the bayou.

Jonas Valanciunas will be the starter alongside Williamson in the run-up to the Pelicans, but Markkanen could be prepared to step in as a later starter. The fit between Williamson and Markkanen is actually really solid, especially when the former Pelicans # 1 can show up as rim protectors like he demonstrated in college.


Markkanen in Boston would certainly be a fascinating scenario. Markkanen, who acts as a nationwide reserve, would give another hit to a converted Celtics squad, which is relying on the further internal development of its strengthened young core.

Boston only has $ 9.7 million in TPE, which means they need to get creative to incorporate marketers into their books. Josh Richardson, recently acquired by Dallas, best fits the salary adjustment needs to do some complicated marketer sign-and-trade job. Richardson may be traded again on August 19th.

When you add Richardson’s $ 11.6 million along with another piece on their list, for example Grant Williams with $ 2.6 million, Markkanen comes close to his desired annual value. When Richardson and Williams are assigned to a team like Oklahoma City, this three-team scenario works for all sides. (It remains to be seen, however, whether Boston would be willing to part with Richardson and Williams in order to land Markkanen.)

If Boston decided to pull the trigger, after adding markers, the rotation would look like this:

Starters: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams

Second session: Dennis Schroder, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, Lauri Markkanen, Enes Kanter

That’s a legitimate 10-man rotation, including a nice mix of versatility off the bench for the Celtics. Keep an eye on Boston as the Dark Horse target for any Markkan sign-and-trade.


How ironic would it be for Markkanen to end up with the organization that originally designed it? When Markkanen took the stage on draft night, he put on a Timberwolves hat, and then he and Zach LaVine were dealt to the Bulls as part of the Jimmy Butler blockbuster deal. Maybe we will soon see a pseudo reunion on the cards? Minnesota has reportedly shown interest in the 24-year-old.

Minnesota doesn’t own a TPE, so they’d have to outsource the salary to a third team to meet the Chicago negotiating price. Luckily for the T-Wolves, they have a couple of different scenarios to allow for a markkan sign-and-trade. The first revolves around the Taurean Prince phasing out of $ 13 million, which will be re-traded on August 18. Another example is Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez, who bring in $ 12.4 million in the next season.

Whichever direction Minnesota goes, they can get a Markkanen deal through (defense is doomed). Adding Markkanen alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards, Minnesota would likely have the worst quartet ever to be defensive.

Chances are Markkanen could start for the Timberwolves or switch off the bench behind rising candidate Jaden McDaniels, who is a better addition to Towns in front-court combinations. Markkanen would give Minnesota a nice goal push and likely come in as the sixth man of the future.


Would the Thunders, which have already been mentioned several times in this exercise as a potential dump for complicated sign-and-trade scenarios, actually be interested in Markkanen themselves? It’s an interesting thought, especially when you find that they can directly sign it with no hassle or use their $ 12.8 million TPE on a trade. With 35 draft picks over the next five years, maybe they treasure Markkans enough to give one up to mate alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

The Thunder create an all-in scenario that revolves around strong upward moves in the draft that include boom-or-bust perspectives like Aleksej Pokusevski, Darius Bazley, Theo Maledon and Josh Giddey. Bringing at least an established presence on board could benefit Oklahoma City in the short and long term. If Markkanen can finally achieve his narrow result, Oklahoma City would have a nice combination of goals in the starting XI.

Does Thunder GM Sam Presti even want to take part in the Markkanen competition? That’s the big question. The more likely scenario is for Presti to add more picks to his ever growing collection of future design capital thanks to Markkanen, which is shipped elsewhere.