Lauri Markkanen Trade Rumors: Knicks Unlikely to Acquire Bulls PF Due to Randle

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

New York Knicks' Julius Randle (30) drives on Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Chicago Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen may be potentially available before Thursday's trade deadline, but don't expect the New York Knicks to come calling.

According to SNY's Ian Begley, "teams believe that Chicago's Markkanen could be available via trade for the right offer," but some members of the Knicks organization feel that he "wouldn't fit well with the club due to the presence of Julius Randle."

Markkanen, 23, is having a solid year for the Bulls, averaging 17.7 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three. But with Markkanen set to become a restricted free agent and potentially get a big deal on the market, it wouldn't be surprising if Chicago entertained offers this season. 

K.C. Johnson @KCJHoop

Here's other thing regarding Markkanen in advance of Thursday: The Bulls know what he's seeking in RFA because they went through the extension process and were roughly $4M apart annually. Will he get what what he's seeking? If Bulls think so, smart to listen to trade offers.

Likewise, it's fair to question his fit next to Randle. Because neither player is particularly adept at rim protection, a starting lineup featuring the two men would potentially be pretty rough on the defensive end. 

On offense, however, it might be fun, with both players capable of stretching defenses to the three-point line (Randle is shooting a career-high 42.8 percent from three this year). 

But the Knicks (22-22) are in the playoff hunt precisely because of the defensive identity they've established under Tom Thibodeau. The team's defensive rating of (108.4), or points allowed per 100 possessions, ranks fourth in the NBA, per NBA.com.

That is, at least in part, because players like Mitchell Robinson (1.5 BPG) and Nerlens Noel (2.0 BPG) offer solid rim protection from the center position. Taking one of them off the court in favor of Markkanen at center would dramatically alter New York's defense. 

And it's hard to imagine the Knicks parting ways with assets, with the intent to sign Markkanen to a long-term extension, only to bring him off the bench. Randle, amidst a career year (23.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 4.9 APG), most certainly won't be coming off the bench.  

So it's a wonky fit and likely takes the Knicks out of the running for Markkanen.