The Chicago Bulls ended the Lauri Markkanen saga on Friday when they agreed to a three-team sign-and-trade deal sending the 24-year-old stretch-big to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he signed a four-year $67 million contract.
The Bulls made away like bandits securing Derrick Jones Jr., a former Slam-Dunk champion, a 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers, and a 2023 second-rounder from the Cavs. Cleveland also sent Larry Nance Jr. to Portland as a part of the deal.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania broke down the deal in the tweet below.
One immediate question is: will the Bulls hold on to all of the assets they received in this trade?
The Bulls Did Well in the Lauri Markkanen Trade
It is exciting to see the Bulls get draft capital back for Markkanen. It helps to replenish what they dealt away in acquiring Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan. As for DJJ, the 24-year-old with insane bounce and tons of potential as an elite wing defender could play major minutes for the Bulls.
According to Chicago sports reporter Daniel Greenberg, who referenced information from Charania, the Bulls plan to hold on to DJJ and use him in their rotation.
That’s interesting considering DJJ is set to be an unrestricted free-agent after the upcoming season. His $9.7 million comes off the books at the end of the season, which means his expiring contract could be a major trade asset for Chicago.
The Bulls Have Tons of Depth at the Wing
The Bulls will start Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan at the shooting guard and small forward positions, respectively. Off the bench, they figure to have Coby White at shooting guard, and they also have Javonte Green and Troy Brown Jr. on the squad, neither of which would appear to be players the team plans on trading. Chicago just re-upped with Green and TBJ showed excellent potential as a three-and-D wing player, which is a very valuable archetype in the NBA today.
At 6’5″, Jones joins that group. He has more game experience than both Green and TBJ, but he’s easily the most expensive, and you could make an argument he may not be more effective if given similar opportunities.
TBJ and DJJ are young (TBJ is 22 years old) so the book isn’t closed on their development, but as they appear, there are some similarities. If Chicago finds themselves in a position during the upcoming season where they have the ability to acquire a significant piece for their roster, and they’re able to potentially package DJJ and White for a player with a higher salary and more years on their deal, they would be fools not to consider the idea.
There are a lot of contingencies, though. TBJ and/or Green would have to prove they have the reserve wing positions locked down. Ayo Dosunmu or Devon Dotson would need to emerge as a rotation player, or the Bulls would need to sign another guard who makes White expendable.
White should still have some trade value around the league. While he may have proven to not be a great point guard in the league, White has proven he’s a legit scorer.
He’s still only 21 years old, and through two NBA seasons, he has career averages of 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists. White has made just over 40% of his shots from the field, and just under 36% of his threes while knocking down a smidge south of 85% of his free throws. There are a ton of teams who would welcome a guy with that production who doesn’t turn 22 until February.
To that point, the Bulls could elect to keep him on the roster, but that still wouldn’t mean DJJ and his expiring deal won’t be a tool in a potential trade. It’s unlikely he’s moved before the season begins, but expect to hear his name mentioned closer to the trade deadline.