Lauri Markkanen Discusses Trade To Jazz, EuroBasket Success

New Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen spoke with Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber exclusive) in a wide-ranging conversation.

The 25-year-old has had a busy summer. In addition to being one of the centerpieces in the deal that saw the Jazz shipping All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers, Markkanen also starred for his native Finland in Berlin for this year’s EuroBasket, racking up the second-highest scoring average in the tournament. The team ultimately fell in the quarterfinals.

This is the second consecutive offseason relocation Markkanen has undergone during his burgeoning pro career. In the summer of 2021, he joined Cleveland in a sign-and-trade deal, inking a four-year, $67.5MM contract. During his lone season with the 44-38 Cavaliers, the seven-footer, traditionally a power forward, started as the team’s small forward for the first time in his NBA career. In 61 games, all starts, he averaged 14.8 PPG on .445/.358/.868 shooting splits, 5.7 RPG, and 1.3 APG.

Walden’s interview is worth reading in full, but here are some select highlights from the conversation:

On Markkanen’s reaction to the trade:

“It was kind of a shock. I didn’t hear anything before, I didn’t see my name in any rumors… It was emotional. I understand the business side of it, so I’ve got no hard feelings. I thanked them for the opportunity that I had. But the first moments were really emotional for me, because we really liked Cleveland, and thought we’d found a home there.”

On playing for his homeland in this summer’s EuroBasket competition:

“[Finland’s standing among its EuroBasket rivals is] still a work in progress. But [rewind] to, like, [11] years ago when they made EuroBasket for the first time in a while at that point — it’s been on the rise since… They were part of the World Cup in [2015]. It’s been going up for a while. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I understand the history. … I’m trying to take this thing even further.”

On how close he came to attending the University of Utah as a college prospect in 2016:

“Utah was my first visit. I was on the visit with my dad, and I remember joking to him, ‘Do I have to go to the other two places? Because I feel comfortable there.’ I was pretty confident that I’m gonna go to Utah… But then we cleared our minds and took the other two visits. And my gut feeling [was strong] when I got to Arizona.”

View Comments (12)