The blockbuster, four-team NBA trade that sent James Harden from the Rockets to the Nets on Wednesday did not directly impact the Bulls, other than the fact that two teams in their division—the Pacers and Cavaliers—were part of the transaction. But there could be a tangential impact on the Bulls coming out of the Cleveland portion of the deal.
As the folks at BlogABull.com pointed out, the fact that Cleveland acquired a talented young center in the deal—Jarrett Allen—gives some insight into what could be available if the Bulls ever did put their own talented young big man, Lauri Markkanen, on the market.
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The Cavs gave up a likely late first-round draft pick (Milwaukee’s 2022 pick), a second-rounder and some added salary fodder (Taurean Prince) to land Allen, a talented defensive-minded center who is averaging 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots this season.
Markkanen is a much different player, though both guys are young (Allen is 22, Markkanen 23) and arrived in the NBA in the 2017 draft. If the Bulls made Markkanen available, would he attract a similar package as the Cavs got for Allen? And would that ben enough for the Bulls?
Comparing Trade Value for Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen
Markkanen is not nearly the defender that Allen is, but then, Allen does not have nearly as much offensive potential as Markkanen. After showing promise in his first two years in the NBA, Markkanen took a decided step backward last year, averaging just 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on 42.5% shooting and 34.4% 3-point shooting.
In his first two seasons combined, Markkanen averaged 16.7 points and 8.2 rebounds, making 36.2% of his 3-pointers. His potential as a stretch-4/5 is still attractive to the Bulls—and to other teams around the league.
If the market for Allen—a late first-round pick and salary absorption—sets the market for Markkanen, the Bulls likely won’t look to make a deal. But Markkanen is heading into restricted free agency.
Despite taking a smaller role in the offense, Markkanen was off to a hot start in his first three games, averaging 20.0 points, making 53.8% of his shots and 47.8% of his 3-pointers. He injured his calf in the fourth game, in Washington, and was exposed to COVID-19 on that trip, halting his season because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Along with Ryan Arcidiacono, Markkanen returned to practice on Tuesday.
Bulls Played Well With Markkanen Out
Without Markkanen around, though the Bulls played very well. The three games he finished were all losses, by an average of 10 points. The team went 4-4 without him and while there was a blowout loss to Milwaukee, Chicago’s last three losses were by a combined nine points.
Markkanen’s place within this team is very much in question.
In his virtual press conference, Markkanen said he did not expect a different role when he returns to the floor on Friday against the Thunder:
I mean we watched the games obviously, and we’ve been really competitive the last couple games, so we just got to be able to come back in and have that high energy, that competitive level right off the bat. I’m sure we’re going to get some work done offensively and defensively [the rest of this week], because I’m sure they did some new stuff on the road, stuff like that. But I don’t expect stuff too different.
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