Woj: Lauri Markkanen Lands 4-Year, $67M Cavs Contract; Bulls, Blazers in TradeAugust 27, 2021
Forward Lauri Markkanen will join the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Chicago Bulls agreed to a sign-and-trade for the former top 10 draft pick.
The restricted free agent will join the Cavs on a four-year, $67 million deal as part of the deal with the Bulls, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the full trade will be a three-team deal involving the Portland Trail Blazers.
Charania noted the Cavs will receive Markkanen from the Bulls, with Larry Nance Jr. going to Portland and Chicago receiving Derrick Jones Jr., a future first-round draft pick and additional draft compensation.
While the Bulls did extend a qualifying offer of about $9 million to the No. 7 overall pick out of Arizona in 2017, he wasn't initially certain he would return to Chicago.
"My thing is I think I've always been a team-first guy. And I think now it's time to look at the business side of the game," Markkanen told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson in May. "I feel like I'm only 23 years old and I have a lot of basketball ahead of me. It's a good opportunity to look what's out there for me. I can be a focal point. I think I have a lot more to offer."
While Markkanen has yet to top the 18.7 points per game he averaged in 2018-19, he did improve his offensive efficiency under head coach Billy Donovan last season. He shot a career-best 48 percent from the field over 51 games—26 starts—while posting 13.6 points per game. The 25.8 minutes per night he averaged in 2020-21 were also the fewest since entering the league.
That didn't seem to bode well for the 24-year-old's finances after initially turning down a multi-year extension before the start of last season, but he believes he handled the situation appropriately.
"I don't have any regrets turning [the extension] down," Markkanen said. "I think I did the right decision. I have a lot of basketball ahead of me. I can do a lot of different stuff on the court. I'm confident in my abilities."
Those abilities have earned him a lucrative multiyear contract in Cleveland. The Cavaliers are building an intriguing young core, with Markkanen joining Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
There's still a lot of work ahead for that group and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to get the Cavs back into playoff contention, but they are a lot more interesting now than they have been at any point since LeBron James left after the 2017-18 season.
The Bulls didn't seem to have Markkanen in their plans, especially after their offseason additions of DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, so being able to flip him for a useful rotation player like Jones and draft compensation is a win for the organization.
The Blazers know they have Damian Lillard in the fold for now, but they need to add more roster talent around the six-time All-Star. Nance is a very good shooter who made a career-high 36.0 percent of his three-point attempts last season. He will be able to boost Portland's offensive production in 2021-22.