Celtics Linked to Former 1st-Team All-Rookie at $15 Million Annually: Report

Celtics interested in Lauri Markkanen

Getty Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls walks to the baseline during a game against the Toronto Raptors.

If Lauri Markkanen has his way, the seven-footer will never play another minute for the Chicago Bulls. Thankfully, for his sake, there appears to be more than a few teams willing to help facilitate such a move.

The restricted free agent informed Finnish journalist Antti-Jussi Sipilä that “we have offers from several different teams. I want a fresh start to my NBA career somewhere else,” via Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. One of those teams, evidently, is the Boston Celtics, who according to Bleacher Report is among a bevy of teams to have shown interest in adding the 24-year-old big man on a deal worth “around $15 million in average annual value.” Other teams to have poked around the Markkanen market include the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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A Markkanen Trade Could Prove Tricky

It was a near foregone conclusion that when the Bulls pulled off a sign-and-trade to bring DeMar DeRozan to the Windy City, that Markkanen would be included in the deal. Fischer backed that notion, reporting that “several sources with knowledge of the situation believe Markkanen was originally headed to San Antonio in the sign-and-trade.” However, somewhere along the way the trade packed was “apparently altered.”

With that said, if you thought Chicago would be both aggressive and obliging in unloading an unhappy Markkanen, think again.

“Chicago is playing this masterfully from no other perspective than a contract management standpoint,” said one team capologist, via Fischer. “It won’t do any favors relationship-wise, but they’re bleeding his market based on their tax situation, and nobody else can offer him any kind of money without them.”

With cap space drying up across the NBA landscape, the B/R columnist states that teams will now have to add Markkanen via a sign-and-trade deal. Then again, Chicago’s desire for a first-round pick in exchange could prove a sticking point for some. If that wasn’t enough, the organization is also “requiring” Markkanen buyers to find a third trade partner to stomach outgoing salary in order to create space for his contract.

Markkanen’s Fit in Boston

Of course, every team would welcome the addition of a seven-footer who can stretch the floor — at the right price. The Celtics would seemingly be no different. Boston did re-acquire Al Horford earlier this offseason, which theoretically helps ease the need for a stretch big. Then again, Markkanen offers far more upside being 11 years younger than Horford.

Despite seeing his minutes take a dip in 2020-21 following the Bulls’ acquisition of Nikola Vucevic, Markkanen still flashed his tantalizing skillset with consistent accuracy as a shooter. The Arizona product finished the year with a career-high 48.0% field-goal percentage while knocking down a personal-best 40.2% from beyond the arc.

A former All-Rookie First Team selection, Markkanen followed that up by averaging nearly 19 points per contest with Bulls in 2018. He’s since seen his production take a dip over the past two seasons. Yet, his traits and youth bode well for him to put forth similar output in the right situation. Although, chances of him sniffing around the 20 points per game average with the Celtics are slim-to-none. The All-Star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have the majority of the scoring duties down pat. However, the losses of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier — albeit at a vastly different position — would leave Markkanen enough opportunities to get his.


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