When Lauri Markkanen was picked with the seventh overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, his rights originally belonged to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who quickly traded him to the Chicago Bulls in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. However, a recent trade idea presented a way in which the Finnish big man could benefit from a change of scenery and play for the Timberwolves in 2020-21, given his declining performance this season.
In a list of trade ideas published on Wednesday, Bleacher Report pointed out that Markkanen is “the one that got away” for the Timberwolves, having performed well in his first two seasons before regressing in the current one. With Minnesota posting the third-worst record in the league (19-45) at the time the NBA went on hiatus on March 11, the outlet suggested the team could trade their 2020 first-round pick to the Bulls in order to acquire Markkanen and fill a need at the power forward position.
“The Wolves need a franchise power forward beside Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarrett Culver, and Markkanen is just 22 and could grow with the young core. He’s already had proven success in the league (18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds per game last year) and is more ready to step in and help a team win than anyone the Wolves would draft.”
— NBA (@NBA) November 10, 2019
As further pointed out by Bleacher Report, the hypothetical trade would allow Chicago to continue its rebuild with not just one, but two potential top-five draft picks, as the team’s 22-43 record is among the worst in the Eastern Conference. The publication wrote that these 2020 draft selections could have a chance to contribute alongside the rest of the Bulls’ young core, which includes guards Zach LaVine and Coby White and center Wendell Carter Jr.
In 50 games in the 2019-20 campaign, Markkanen posted averages of 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, also shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three-point range. Reports from last month suggested that the former University of Arizona standout became unhappy with the Bulls this season for a number of reasons. These allegedly included his reduced role, the uncertainty in the front office prior to the departure of general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, and the offensive schemes utilized by head coach Jim Boylen.
Aside from the suggested move to the Timberwolves, other recent trade ideas involving Markkanen included a move to the Phoenix Suns — another team that is perceived as being in need of a quality starter at power forward.