Top 5 Trade Destinations for Lauri Markkanen

Bulls fans are stuck. After the lottery Gods decided against back-to-back lottery jumps for the team that Jordan built, one of the most loyal fanbases in all of sports is left wondering “What now?”.

And the reality to that question is what the Bulls have now is to wait to find a partner in this off-season before they can make any more roster upgrades with former 2nd round pick Marko Simonovic signing up to make the jump to the NBA next year.

With the knowledge that Simonovic is coming over, the Bulls look to have a crowded frontcourt with an obvious candidate in Lauri Markkanen to be moved in a sign and trade somewhere this offseason. 

The writing clearly on the wall; it’s more a matter of where does Lauri end up going and what can the Bulls get in return for him at the point guard position at this point in the Lauri-Bulls marriage. 

So what could the Bulls get for the Finnish big man who had one of the first stories on HoopSocial?

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Rumors of Lonzo Ball preferring the Clippers or the Bulls was the first name linked to the Bulls and between whispers of the Spurs liking Lauri’s game along with Murray potentially being available have the hopes high for a legitimate point guard to find their way playing alongside Zach LaVine but they aren’t the only options available for the Bulls to try and upgrade their point guard position even if they are the highest upside options. 

With the knowledge that Lauri is on the way out more than likely, I put together a few trades I think the Bulls should consider to try and bring back some talent and be set to build towards a better future than the outlook projects now. 

I’ll start with my favorites and go from there. If you have any that you’d like to throw my way, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@finalfinally) and let me know!

Ideally, the Bulls would be able to do a straight swap of Lauri Markkanen for Lonzo Ball and not have to take on any additional salary to maintain a little flexibility going forward. But to be realistic, this trade gives the Pelicans some incentive to make the deal and gives the Bulls the playmaking, defensive point guard they are targeting to play next to Zach. 

My favorite part of Lonzo’s game (and why I have this as my favorite trade for the offseason) is his size to play the guard or the wing spot on both ends of the floor. With Coby White showing that he also plays much better off the ball, the idea that Lonzo could play with Coby and help him reach his potential as a scoring guard off the bench. 

Given the spacing provided by the frontcourt, playing 5 out with Coby/Zach/Lonzo/Williams/Vuc would give Ball and LaVine plenty of spacing to work with to create advantages for the other three. 

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That spacing that Lonzo can now provide is thanks to his improved 3 point shot. He has shot 38% over the last two years from behind the arc including that same number above the break, where he shoots most of his three point shots. 

With Lonzo, Zach, and Vuc all preferring to shoot above the break that lets the other players occupy those corner 3 spots to stretch the defense to its breaking point.

If Lonzo Ball in a Bulls uniform is 1A then the Bulls managing to turn Lauri Markkanen into Dejounte Murray is 1B on my list. While not the floor spacer Lonzo is, Murray offers benefits in other areas.  

My preference in Ball over Murray is that while Murray has had a high usage rate and been the catalyst for the offense in San Antonio Ball has been playing behind two other players already. If we managed to nab Murray, how much of his game overlaps with Zach’s and isn’t the benefit here that it is for the Spurs?

On the other side of the ball though he would remind Bulls fans of the best of the Kris Dunn days with his perimeter defense. One of the few lockdown guards in the league, Murray has a history of being a plus defender who enjoys the work on that end. 

While Lonzo might be the better fit on offense with Zach, the fit on the defensive end goes to Murray. With him and Patrick Williams flanking him, Zach LaVine would never have to worry about guarding the other team’s best player. 

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Whether or not Murray is even available is up for debate. But if the whispers are true and the Spurs are open to moving on from Murray, the Bulls would be hard pressed to find better value for Lauri Markkanen than that.

If the Bulls can’t find a way to bring Lonzo Ball or Dejounte Murray to Chicago then Spencer Dinwiddie might be the next best option. Coming off a partial ACL tear, Dinwiddie looks to be ready to start next season. 

While concerning, an ACL tear today isn’t the same as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. But at age 28 he’s more on the timeline of LaVine (26) and Vucevic (30) than the previous two options. 

And while he isn’t a knockdown three point shooter, he was at the top of the class when it comes to attacking the basket and playmaking; two things the Bulls could use more of out of the guard spot. 

His playmaking especially sticks out with the thought of surrounding him with four capable three point shooters. Checking his numbers in the 2019-2020 season I was surprised to see just how well he compared to other guards that year on BBall-Index’s website.

While he wasn’t elite at passing out of drives it’s hard to argue with many other of his ratings on this screenshot. 

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The shot quality at the rim is alarming but he was playing beside a big who couldn’t pull his man away from the rim whatsoever in Jarrett Allen whereas Nikola Vucevic would give him more room to work once he drove into the lane. Dinwiddie is my dark horse candidate to come back to Chicago and be the piece that leads them back to the playoffs.

This one is right there with the Dinwiddie trade in terms of how much I’d like to see happen. Sexton isn’t the creator that Dinwiddie would be but is a much better three point shooter. Adding Kevin Love to a roster looking to contend with some veterans and his ability to stretch the floor from the corners could be invaluable for the LaVine/Vuc two man game. 

The real prize here though would be Collin Sexton. Also a three point shooter, Sexton could have success in that mold playing off-ball when he wasn’t doing what he does best. 

Attacking the rim with drives to the basket and either finishing those drives or using that gravity he’s pulling to create for others is where Sexton has excelled when he’s at his best and while he isn’t a true point guard, with enough playmaking on the floor along with the spacing the offense could certainly flow.

The defensive side would be a concern as Sexton doesn’t have as much size as these other guards but that’s something that can be hidden on defense with good coaching. It’s the offensive fit that while might not be perfect, would have enough positives to be worth giving Sexton the contract he’s looking for. 

This is the “well it’s better than nothing” option. And before the eye rolls come, let me remind the readers that Frank Ntilikina is going to be 23 years old for the entirety of next season. 

He’s been in the league for enough years that I was shocked when I read how old he was to the point I DMed multiple people anointing him the next Andre Drummond. And while he’s not going to develop into a superstar, he could still become a very good player on a contending team.

He shot 84% from free throws last year before barely playing this year, a good sign for his three point shooting after having success in limited corner attempts the last two years. And getting an asset that is on a cheap contract that can play excellent, game changing defense along with spacing the floor in the spots you need them to most are how teams build title contenders. 

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With Lauri clearly on his way out, getting a defensive guard who might be able to knock down threes is better than nothing. With the Magic getting to select 8th in their place, the Bulls are stuck with nothing to show for it and no cap room to add to their roster without finding a trade partner. 

I’m just worried the new Bulls front office is going to be left without that partner this offseason and be stuck in no man’s land of mediocrity. If that’s the case, Karnisovas won’t be able to blame this one on the ghosts of GarPax. 

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Podcast host over at Charity Stripe Commentary, scouring NBA Twitter content over on @finalfinally, and of course writing for HoopSocial!

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