Lauri Markkanen, a forward for the Utah Jazz, could be traded if general manager Danny Ainge decides to take a different approach to the season.
The Thunder have already shown this season that they’re not easy to beat, but with a record of 4-5 and some wins over teams with questionable records, it’s clear they’re a long way from contention or even a spot in the Playoffs.
They will try to trade for players with their vast number of draft picks to smooth out the rough spots and get better.
Next season, they’ll have Chet Holmgren, who was picked second overall, a new player from the 2023 Draft, and other players, and they could try to make a run. Adding a player now could give them enough time to adjust before Sam Presti, the Thunder’s general manager, and the team press the “Go” button.
Lauri Markkanen start with Utah Jazz
Lauri Markkanen has a fantastic start with the new Utah Jazz, averaging 21.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. At those averages, he’s one of the league’s players with the most value. With a contract through the 2024–25 season.
Markkanen hasn’t become officially available yet, and the Jazz could keep holding on to their pieces in the hopes that this team can make a splash, but that seems like a bit of a pipe dream at this point. After trading their two stars, Danny Ainge wanted a fresh start for the Jazz. Getting off to an 8-3 start is excellent, but it’s probably not what he had in mind.
Suppose Ainge and the Jazz trade more players to try to get Victor Wembanayama, Scoot Henderson, or another highly regarded young player. In that case, the Thunder could be a contender for Markkanen.
Oklahoma City Thunder gets Lauri Markkanen.
Markkanen has been outstanding, but he has not yet achieved star status. Ainge would have been happy with this return for Markkanen a few weeks ago, which includes a rising prospect, a quality role player, and two first-round choices with high ceilings.
OKC could add more picks, but it seems fair to give Ainge some lottery picks or even picks in the top five to ten if things go their way. In this case, Presti would bet that Oklahoma City will be a lot better in 2024 than most people think it will be.
Most likely, Utah will give Markkanen a good chunk of the season to determine what to do with him before making a decision. Even though eight games isn’t nearly enough for the Jazz to trade him or any other team to sign the 25-year-old, it’s still worth taking a look.
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