Lauri Markkanen

Eastern Notes: Ujiri, Markkanen, Pangos, Pacers

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri admits his franchise is in a transition phase, Gilbert McGregor of relays. Ujiri discussed the state of the team with Jayme Poisson on CBC’s Front Burner podcast.

“We are not a team of ‘now,'” Ujiri said. “There are going to be growing pains, trust me, you know like, sometimes it’s going to be tough to watch but we know what’s coming, we know we’re excited about the young talent. They are excited to play – to see how, OG (Anunoby), Pascal (Siakam), Fred (VanVleet), are going to evolve as leaders – as elite players.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Lauri Markkanen, acquired by the Cavaliers from the Bulls in a sign-and-trade, says he’ll bring his new team more than just a stretch four option on offense, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “Obviously I’m seven feet but I feel like I can do a lot of different stuff. I’m not strictly a post-up guy,” Markkanen said. “I’m not strictly a 3-point shooter. I’ve been shooting more 3s now but I feel I can do a lot more stuff — put the ball on the floor and create for others from there. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing. Just be active on both ends of the floor.”
  • The Cavaliers will use a portion of their mid-level exception to sign point guard Kevin Pangos, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Pangos agreed to a two-year, $3.5MM contract with a first-year salary of $1.67MM. Pangos is receiving $700K above the rookie minimum, Marks notes.
  • The biggest upgrade the Pacers made this offseason was on the sidelines, Zach Harper of The Athletic opines. While the front office acquired a couple of potentially important role players, the key move was hiring Rick Carlisle for a second stint as their head coach. Carlisle replaces Nate Bjorkgren, who quickly fell out of favor with the team’s players and even his staff, Harper adds.

Cavs Rumors: Simmons, Love, Frontcourt, Valentine, Mathews, Windler

The Cavaliers, who have been mentioned throughout the summer as a possible Ben Simmons suitor, continue to have interest in landing the Sixers star, writes Marc Stein of Substack.

Chris Fedor of mentioned Cleveland’s pursuit of the three time All-Star today as well, adding that the Cavs could enter the fray as a third team in a Simmons trade in order to acquire either Simmons or a different asset, like they did in the James Harden trade to acquire Jarrett Allen (Taurean Prince was also acquired by the Cavs in the Harden deal, and was recently traded to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio).

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers continue to be in a tough spot with Kevin Love, Fedor notes. Love played just 25 games last season and his impact on the court has diminished over the course of his contract, which still has two years and $60MM remaining. Such a hefty sum will make it difficult to trade Love without attaching assets, which doesn’t interest the Cavs unless they feel the situation becomes untenable. Fedor adds that the previously rumored buyout talks went nowhere, which means the team and player are stuck with each other — for now.
  • Evan Mobley is the presumed starting power forward for the Cavs, with $100MM man Allen slotting in at center, Fedor opines, which would make newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen the team’s de facto sixth man. How coach J.B. Bickerstaff manages the frontcourt situation is worth monitoring for a number of reasons, particularly because Markkanen was disappointed about coming off the bench for the Bulls last season, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Fedor, the Cavs have talked about having Mobley, Allen, and Markkanen each playing about 26-30 minutes per night.
  • The Cavs continue to look for wing depth and shooting, Fedor notes, which is crucial to the team’s offensive development. The Cavs were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season, ranking 25th in FG%, 26th in FT%, 29th in 3PT made, 28th 3PT attempts, and 30th in 3PT%. Sources tell Fedor that Denzel Valentine is interested in Cleveland and that Garrison Mathews could be another possible target.
  • Dylan Windler, who underwent surgery in April on his left knee, isn’t a lock to be ready for the start of training camp, says Fedor.

Central Notes: J. Jackson, George, White, Markkanen

Josh Jackson may be the most expendable player in the Pistons‘ training camp battle for roster spots, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. When Hamidou Diallo re-signed last month, it gave Detroit 16 guaranteed contracts. Sources tell Edwards it took longer than expected to reach a new deal with Diallo, but he was always in the team’s plans.

Jackson is set to make $5MM in the final year of a deal he signed last offseason. The former No. 4 overall pick was productive in his first season with the Pistons, averaging 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 62 games, but Edwards notes that he’s just an average defender and an unreliable three-point shooter (30% last season). There may also not be enough minutes for Jackson, Diallo and Frank Jackson, who all play similar roles.

Edwards names Jahlil OkaforRodney McGruder and Sekou Doumbouya as other candidates to be traded or waived to reach the regular season roster limit of 15. Okafor will make $2.13MM in the final year of his contract, while McGruder has a $1.67MM expiring deal and isn’t expected to play much. Doumbouya is still on his rookie contract, but Edwards points out that he remains a raw prospect and is left over from the previous front office.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have officially announced the return of George David as assistant general manager. He held the same position from 2012-14 before leaving for the Wasserman Media Group. “I’m excited to return to the Detroit Pistons and help Tom Gores, Arn Tellem and Troy Weaver in the restoring effort of the franchise,” David said. “Detroit has always been home for me and I know how passionate the city and region is about their sports teams.  Troy’s vision for building the roster aligns with the core values of Detroit Basketball and I look forward to playing a role in the continued rise of the organization.”
  • Even though the Bulls stocked up on guards this summer, there should be playing time available for Coby White once he returns from surgery on his left shoulder, states Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Collier sees White as a back-up to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and he may be on the court with Alex Caruso in three-guard lineups.
  • The Cavaliers will pay Lauri Markkanen $15,690,909 for the upcoming season with slight raises throughout his new four-year deal, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Markkanen will make $16,475,454 in 2022/23, $17,259,999 in 2023/24 and $18,044,544 in 2024/25, giving the contract a total value of more than $67MM, although only $6MM of the final season is guaranteed.

Central Notes: Bulls, Markkanen, Rubio, Martin

The Bulls and their recently-departed backup power forward Lauri Markkanen should both be better off following the restricted free agent’s sign-and-trade agreement with the Cavaliers, contends Sam Smith of

Given that retaining Markkanen in Chicago would almost certainly stir locker room drama this season, Smith notes that both sides seem poised to benefit from this fresh start. The Bulls were able to add back two new future draft picks and some salary cap flexibility with Derrick Jones Jr.s expiring contract.

Markkanen, meanwhile, will get to once again put up good numbers on a new lottery-bound Cavaliers team that should inflate his depreciated value around the league. Smith still sees potential All-Star upside in Markkanen, the seventh overall selection by the Bulls out of Arizona in the 2017 draft. Perhaps the seven-footer can reach his ceiling in Cleveland.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • There are some fascinating wrinkles to ponder now that Markkanen has joined the Cavaliers, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Russo takes a deep dive into the Markkanen deal and how it could impact Cleveland’s frontcourt rotations. The 24-year-old sharpshooting big man will help spread the floor, and could do well alongside ball-handlers Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. Evan Mobley, the third pick in the 2021 draft out of USC, should compete with Markkanen for starting power forward honors. Mobley will likely see more time at center now, too, behind newly-minted $100MM man Jarrett Allen. Injury-prone former All-Star power forward Kevin Love will most likely fall behind both Markkanen and Mobley in the rotation now.
  • Oft-traded new Cavaliers reserve point guard Ricky Rubio admitted that being dealt so frequently has proven frustrating, as he told Didac Piferrer of Marca (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops). “I am indeed a bit tired (of the trades), but I have been in the NBA for ten years now and I know how it works,” Rubio said. “At the end of the day, everyone tries to be ready to adapt to a new environment. You must be mentally prepared for his. But everything takes time.” Rubio was dealt from the Suns to the Thunder, then to the Timberwolves, during the 2020 offseason. He was subsequently sent to Cleveland during the 2021 offseason. Rubio, who is on the last season of a three-year, $51MM deal he inked with Phoenix in 2019, has also played for the Jazz during his ten-year NBA career.
  • The Cavaliers renounced their free agent exception rights to two-way point guard Jeremiah Martin when completing the Markkanen sign-and-trade, per RealGM. After Cleveland promoted power forward Lamar Stevens from a two-way deal to its 15-man roster in April 2021, the club added Martin on a two-way contract. He suited up for nine contests with the team for the 2020/21 season.

Charania’s Latest: Simmons, Markkanen, Blazers, Brooks

Although the Sixers have told teams they’re comfortable bringing back Ben Simmons for the 2021/22 season, rival executives are skeptical, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who says those execs think it’s just a matter of time before Simmons is moved. All signs continue to point to Simmons’ career in Philadelphia coming to an end, Charania writes.

Still, while the Sixers have held “expansive” discussions with multiple teams, they haven’t gotten close to completing a deal yet. The Timberwolves and Raptors are two teams in the mix for the three-time All-Star, per Charania. However, sources tell The Athletic that the Wolves’ assets may not appeal to Philadelphia and they might need to find a third team to get something done, while Toronto’s proposals haven’t piqued the 76ers’ interest yet.

As has been reported previously, the Sixers’ dilemma is complicated by the fact that they’d love to use Simmons as the centerpiece in a Damian Lillard offer, but the Trail Blazers‘ point guard appears set to open the season in Portland as he continues to evaluate the team’s present and future, writes Charania.

Here are a few more highlights from Charania’s latest article for The Athletic:

  • Although the Bulls never seemed focused on signing Lauri Markkanen to a long-term deal, the high asking price they set in sign-and-trade negotiations sent a message to executives around the league that they valued him and weren’t willing to lose him for nothing, writes Charania. According to Charania, the second-round pick the Bulls received from the Cavaliers in the Markkanen trade had been a sticking point in negotiations.
  • Markkanen “fully expected” to be signed-and-traded to the Spurs in the Bulls‘ acquisition of DeMar DeRozan, but Chicago is believed to have pulled him from that package, sources tell Charania.
  • Before getting involved in the Markkanen deal to acquire Larry Nance from Cleveland, the Trail Blazers had interest in Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks, sources tell Charania. One report suggested that Memphis was willing to listen on inquiries about Brooks.

Lauri Markkanen Happy To Get “Fresh Start” In Cleveland

Lauri Markkanen had been hoping free agency would bring a new opportunity and now he has it in Cleveland, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen got the contract he was looking for — $67MM over four seasons — from the Cavaliers, who officially completed a three-team trade earlier today.

“I don’t think I’ve hit close to my ceiling yet,” Markkanen said after the deal was announced. “… The last couple years have been mentally pretty tough. I’ve grown as a person because of that, so I wouldn’t change it. I’ve learned a lot. But I just felt like I need to get back to the old me and how I know I can play the game. I think this is a good opportunity for me to do that.

“I’m happy. I’m really excited and looking forward. We kind of felt like I needed a fresh start. And I appreciate all the people who were involved to help facilitate it and make it happen.”

Markkanen once appeared to part of the foundation for a rebuilding Bulls team. He was included in the return when Chicago traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, and he earned first-team All-Rookie honors in 2018 after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. However, his next three seasons were filled with injuries that limited him to 52, 50 and 51 games.

Markkanen, who turned down an extension offer before the season began, ended his stay in Chicago coming off the bench regularly for the first time in his career. After the Bulls acquired centers Nikola Vučević and Daniel Theis at the trade deadline, coach Billy Donovan opted for a bigger, more rugged starting lineup.

“I think obviously I’m most disappointed we didn’t make the postseason one time when I was there. We tried our best obviously. That’s what we’re paid to do. It didn’t work out,” Markkanen said. “I think I had good moments as a player, and I had some inconsistencies. But I’m looking ahead.”

Markkanen is entering another rebuilding situation with the Cavaliers, who went 22-50 last season and landed the third overall pick in the draft. At age 24, he will be one of the more experienced players in an organization filled with young talent. Markkanen will likely move back into a starting role in Cleveland, and he believes he’s joining the franchise at a good time.

“I think I fit in well — young core, exciting point guards. I’m looking forward to playing with those big guys in the frontcourt. They’re all young, talented guys. I think we can grow together,” Markkanen said. “And I can’t wait to learn from a player like Kevin Love. Just learn aspects of the game from him and the mentality of the game, how he approaches it. I’m looking forward to that as well.”

Trail Blazers Notes: Markkanen, Nance, McCollum

The Trail Blazers were hoping to acquire Lauri Markkanen directly from the Bulls, but weren’t willing to part with the draft picks that Chicago wanted, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Instead, they became a third team involved with the trade that sent the restricted free agent to Cleveland.

Portland offered Derrick Jones Jr. and a lottery-protected first-rounder, which it gave up in the three-team version of the trade, but balked when the Bulls asked for an extra second-round pick. Johnson explains that Chicago is trying to restock its draft capital after giving up three first-rounders in recent deals involving Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls may also lose picks if they are found guilty of tampering in an investigation regarding Lonzo Ball.

There’s more from Portland:

  • Larry Nance Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the Cavaliers in a first-person piece on Nance says he asked Cleveland general manager Koby Altman to send him to a contender if he could work out a deal that would benefit the team as well. “Going to Portland is something that I am extremely excited about,” Nance wrote. “This is a team that has seen the biggest stages and is hungry for more, and I’m thrilled that they believe I can help them climb higher. This opportunity is one that I’m very ready to take advantage of and I have the Cavs to thank for preparing me for it.”
  • Adding Nance makes the Trail Blazers the winner of the three-team deal, contends Nekias Duncan of Basketball News. Duncan calls Nance “destructive” as a help-side defender and says he will help the offense as a screener and cutter.
  • In an appearance on J.J. Redick‘s “Old Man and the Three” podcast, CJ McCollum says he feels like he let down backcourt partner Damian Lillard in Game 5 of the playoff series with the Nuggets (hat tip to Marlow Ferguson Jr. of Blazer’s Edge). Lillard had 55 points and 10 assists, but Portland still lost in double overtime. “I have a full summer understanding what we went through, understanding how I performed at the beginning of the season, middle and the end, and I know how I need to perform for us to have success,” McCollum said. “Obviously, I want to win a championship. I have dreams, goals, aspirations, that’s the priority. But for any of that to happen, I need to be the best version of myself, and I have to be a version of myself that most of the world hasn’t seen. You talk about that irrational confidence again, and it’s still here.”

Cavaliers Acquire Lauri Markkanen In Three-Team Sign-And-Trade

AUGUST 28: The trade is official, the Cavaliers announced in a press release.

“We are extremely fortunate as an organization to be in a position to acquire another young and talented player with the skill-set of Lauri Markkanen,” said Cleveland general manager Koby Altman. “He has the proven ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor from the perimeter and, at 24-years-old, we believe his best basketball is in front of him. We are committed to establishing a winning culture in Cleveland that can be sustained over time and Lauri helps elevate that description.”

AUGUST 27: The Cavaliers will acquire Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Portland will receive Larry Nance Jr. in the deal, according to Wojnarowski, and will send Derrick Jones Jr. and a 2022 protected first-round pick to Chicago. The Bulls will also get a Nuggets 2023 second-rounder from Cleveland.

The trade ends a long wait for Markkanen, who had been looking for a new team since free agency began on August 2. He will receive a four-year, $67MM contract from the Cavs, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link), and the Bulls get the first-round pick they were seeking in return for the 24-year-old restricted free agent. That pick from Portland will be lottery protected through 2028, Woj adds (via Twitter), and will become a second-round selection if it’s not conveyed before then.

Markkanen’s four-year contract is valued at $18MM in the final season, but only carries a $6MM guarantee, sources tell Chris Fedor of (Twitter link).

The deal leaves the Cavs $4.7MM under the luxury tax with 14 players under contract, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Blazers are $1.3MM above the tax threshold with 13 players signed and will likely be $3MM over once they add a league-mandated 14th player. The Bulls are $6.4MM under the tax and $11.8MM below the hard cap with 13 guaranteed contracts, Marks adds (Twitter link).

Markkanen’s outgoing salary only counts as $7.79MM, rather than the full amount, due to base year compensation rules, Marks notes (via Twitter). Chicago had hoped to get a player in the $9-10MM range, which it did by acquiring Jones. Markkenen’s incoming salary from the Cavs’ perspective will be the full amount of $15.58MM.

Markkanen fell out of Chicago’s starting lineup last season for the first time in his four years in the NBA and played a career-low 25.8 minutes per night. His averages of 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game were all the worst of his career.

He had been hoping for a “fresh start” and will get it in Cleveland, where he will likely be the new starting power forward. The trade allows the Cavs to solidify a position of need and gives rookie big man Evan Mobley more time to develop.

Nance, 28, is under contract for two more year at $10.69MM and $9.67MM. He averaged 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season and will bring a defensive presence to Portland’s front line. New coach Chauncey Billups has spoken repeatedly about the need to upgrade the team’s defense.

Jones, 24, has an expiring $9.72MM contract for the upcoming season. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 58 games last season and adds another versatile forward to Chicago’s rotation.

Central Notes: Nance Jr., Markkanen, Love, Theis, Allen

Larry Nance Jr. wasn’t surprised that the Cavaliers agreed to trade him in the unofficial three-team deal that will bring Lauri Markkanen to Cleveland, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nance was concerned about his role and playing time with the addition of lottery pick Evan Mobley. Cleveland’s front office had discussed the possibility of moving him to a contender where he might have a bigger role.

He’s happy that he’s going to the Trail Blazers, where he’ll play with Damian Lillard and close friend CJ McCollum. If the Blazers eventually go into rebuild mode, Nance can leave as an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2o23, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • In the same story, Fedor writes that the Cavs tried hard to trade for a wing shooter, dangling Nance, their 2022 first-round pick and, in some instances, a package of second-rounders. The Cavs couldn’t find the right deal and eventually turned their attention to a stretch four in Markkanen, who they hope can provide an offensive jolt.
  • The Cavaliers are denying they’re engaged in buyout talks with Kevin Love, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A source told Pluto that progress was being made toward a buyout, which makes sense for both parties, the writer notes.
  • The Bulls received $1.1MM from the Rockets in the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tweets. The deal also generated a $5MM traded player exception.
  • The Bucks received $1MM from the Grizzlies in the Grayson Allen deal, Pincus adds in another tweet. Memphis acquired Sam Merrill and two second-round picks.

Northwest Notes: Green, Timberwolves, Lore, Snyder

JaMychal Green drew interest from a number of teams during free agency, Mike Singer of The Denver Post reports. Green caught the attention of the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Sixers, Spurs and Bucks. Minnesota even considered a possible sign-and-trade for the veteran forward, who opted to re-sign with the Nuggets on a two-year, $17MM deal.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had some level of interest in all of the forwards involved in the unofficial three-team trade among the Bulls, Cavaliers and Trail Blazers, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. They had early interest this summer in restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, who’s headed to Cleveland in the sign-and-trade, but Chicago didn’t seriously engage them in trade discussions, Wolfson adds. Minnesota had strong interest last year in Larry Nance Jr., who’s going to Portland, and Derrick Jones Jr., who’s joining the Bulls.
  • Marc Lore, who along with former baseball star Alex Rodriguez has assumed 20% of the Timberwolves franchise with plans to eventually become the controlling owners, believes he can sell top free agents on coming to Minnesota, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “When players or people say, ‘Hey, it’s a small market, we’re never going to get any of the big free agents,’ — well, if they share a similar set of values maybe they will (come),” Lore said. “If you really stand for something, and they’re passionate about the same values, then they’re like, ‘No, I’ve seen it. I’ve heard about it. I want to be a part of that.'”
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder isn’t likely to tinker too much with his lineups and rotations this coming season, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News speculates. Snyder isn’t the type of coach who does a lot of experimentation but he will play to the strengths of his personnel and there are some new faces, so that will require some flexibility, Todd adds.