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NBA Trade Rumors: New destinations for Lauri Markkanen emerge and why the trade may take longer


NBA Trade Rumors: New destinations for Lauri Markkanen emerge and why the trade may take longer

We have multiple teams that vying for Lauri Markkanen in a potential trade and we got some more insight today. Another team to watch in the Lauri Markkanen sweepstakes according to Zach Lowe, the Miami Heat.

From Lowe’s latest piece:

Trading Lauri Markkanen would buy Utah a one-way ticket toward the front of the tank line, and Markkanen indeed stands as perhaps the league’s most intriguing trade chip with Mikal Bridges now in New York. A pile of teams have shown interest in him, including the San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat and Warriors, sources said. History suggests Danny Ainge, Utah’s CEO, will move Markkanen once someone meets his price. That could be tomorrow or months from now if the Jazz raise Markkanen’s salary and then sign him to a contract extension once they are allowed to do so in early August.

Utah can do that because it has cap space. Most teams interested in Markkanen are capped out and thus could not extend him upon acquiring him. It’s possible Markkanen would have more trade value if the Jazz extend him first, providing security for interested teams.

Either way, Utah cannot keep doing this thing where they are frisky for two months before the front office pulls the plug and they end up picking around No. 10.

I’m sure the Ainge/Riley rivalry is probably a little overblown, but that could make a trade with the Heat unlikely. On top of that, the Miami Heat have a lot of their future draft capital tied up in other trades with protections, so they don’t appear able to meet the price Danny Ainge has set. Still, it’s interesting they’re throwing their hat in the ring, even if that’s what they seem to do with every potential trade chip out there.

Marc Stein reported on some of the reasons the trade may be taking longer than expected as well as the teams currently interested in Markkanen.

First, he re-iterates the teams we’ve heard about trying to trade for the Utah Jazz forward.

Three main takeaways I’ve heard in reporting on Utah’s ongoing willingness to field calls from teams interested in highly coveted forward Lauri Markkanen … after an aggressive recent pursuit by Golden State to acquire him and discussions with other teams such as Sacramento, San Antonio, Miami and New Orleans

But Stein goes on to explain that re-negotiation for Markkanen has to wait till August 6th if that’s what the Jazz want to do, but that might be an advantage for Utah.

The Jazz can’t use their $30-plus million in projected salary cap space to renegotiate and extend Markkanen’s contract until Aug. 6, so Utah is incentivized to take every call in the interim and keep listening to pitches. That approach does no apparent harm. It also generates lots of good intel for them. The Jazz, with Danny Ainge as CEO, were always going to do this even if they are serious about keeping Markkanen.

He also Utah might have a harder time trading him now because he isn’t locked into a long-term deal.

More than one rival team has shared the observation that it would be difficult for the Jazz to trade him in the short term — even if they wanted to — because Markkanen is entering the final season of his current contract at a mere $18 million. It obviously complicates Jazz efforts to get a trade package in return for Markkanen on the level of Brooklyn’s haul for Mikal Bridges when Markkanen is not under team control for more than a season and when his salary is relatively low. They have a much better chance to command a Bridges-style offer filled with future draft picks like New York agreed to furnish the Nets if Markkanen, 27, is signed to an extension.

That doesn’t mean a trade can’t happen, but it does mean that whoever is trading for him probably wants a guarantee of a re-signing kind of like what happened with Pascal Siakam and the Indiana Pacers.

He reports that one team that has shown interest in Markkanen is confident they will trade him because of the difficulty of gaining tier 1 type players, which is more likely in the next few drafts.

At least one team that has shown interest in Markkanen is projecting confidence that the Jazz will indeed trade Markkanen in the near future even if they extend him … and despite the fact that the 7-foot Finn, by all accounts, wants to stay in Salt Lake City. Reason being according to the team consulted: The challenges faced thus far in acquiring top-level players to play alongside him. That could make the trade route more attractive … especially given the projected strength of the NBA’s 2025 and 2026 drafts.

Finally, Stein talks about the logistics of what it means to trade Markkanen next season and it’s …. dicey for Utah.

One more interesting and incredibly important wrinkle here: Next season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 — eight days before All-Star Weekend (Feb. 14-16) begins in San Francisco.

This is hugely important because Markkanen can’t be traded for six months after signing an extension in Utah.

Six months after Aug. 6 happens to be Feb. 6.

Translation: It appears, after checking with the league office, that Markkanen would be eligible to be traded for only one day next season — on Feb. 6 and Feb. 6 alone — if an extension is hashed out immediately with the Jazz on Aug. 6. If an extension happens Aug. 7 or later, Markkanen won’t be eligible to be traded until after the 2024-25 season.

So if the draft is your plan, would you rather re-negotiate Markkanen now and then plan on trading him on that exact date of Feb. 6th? That’s putting a lot at risk for a decision that has massive implications for the team’s future. What if Markkanen gets hurt? What if he has a down season? What if he demands a specific team? All of this makes this a critical situation and it’s not something Utah can sit back and watch unfold like the last two seasons.

At some point Utah has to make a firm decision about the future and go for it, putting things to chance has not worked.

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