We are two weeks into NBA free agency and forward Lauri Markkanen still remains on the Bulls roster. As free agency opened there were a lot of reports of teams interested in Markkanen. Even Markkanen himself said there were multiple teams interested. Well, here we are, two weeks later, and no movement. The main reason behind nothing happening is due to Markkanen’s expectations. He believes he deserves more than teams are willing to pay. Due to this, he hasn’t signed with any teams yet. That means teams aren’t offering more than the qualifying offer the Bulls extended to him. Ultimately that leaves the Bulls with one option, find a sign and trade partner to move Lauri. One team has remained a constant as rumors fly about Markkanen. That team is the Dallas Mavericks. Today another rumor has surfaced about what the Bulls may be looking for in return for Markkanen.
Will the Mavericks acquire Lauri Markkanen?
I’ve heard the Bulls have interest in Maxi Kleber, @tim_cato writes.
“I would also put the odds at Markkanen ending up in Dallas at 30 or 40 percent.”
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) August 16, 2021
According to Tim Cato of The Athletic, the Bulls are interested in Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber. The Bulls are looking for more depth on their bench and Kleber would certainly add to that. It’s obvious the Bulls want some sort of return for Markkanen. It was unclear whether that was picks or a player. But it’s looking more likely that Markkanen will be headed off to Dallas and the Bulls will get something in return.
Maxi Kleber’s stats
The Bulls are likely going to start second-year forward Patrick Williams at the power forward spot. He’s a guy they believe in and expects to take a leap up this year. The Bulls acquiring Kleber is a move to bolster the bench. Over his four-year career that’s exactly what Kleber has been. Kleber has averaged 7.1 PPG, 45.8 %FG, 36.8 %3FG, 4.5 RPG, & 1.0 APG. He’s been a solid bench player throughout his career. At 6’10” and 240 lb he can certainly hold his own at the power forward position. He would be a welcome addition to the Bulls bench. This team is set up nicely from a starter’s perspective but they could use some more bench depth. This sign and trade would be nice adding Kleber but it’s unlikely that would be all they get for Markkanen.
Sign and trade details
The Bulls are looking to get as much back as they can for Markkanen. While his trade value isn’t exactly high right now he should still garner more than you would think. In a possible sign and trade deal, you would likely see Kleber along with a 2nd round pick. It’s possible the Mavs might throw in an additional player but right now I can imagine Kleber plus a pick would satisfy the Bulls.
Long been a big fan of Maxi Kleber. Wasn't used the right way last year, but the year before he was doing all sorts of fun things in the short roll that could be a tremendous asset to Chicago.
A Markkanen/Kleber trade (plus stuff) should in theory satisfy both parties. https://t.co/X93hxzboQS
— Morten Stig Jensen (@msjnba) August 10, 2021
It’s also possible that the Bulls get some cash considerations in this deal. There’s no telling what else will be included but knowing this front office they aren’t going to move forward if it’s just a one-for-one swap. Markkanen still has potential in a lot of people’s eyes. He’s one of those cases where people believe a clean slate and a new city might help him thrive. He couldn’t get it done in Chicago on a consistent basis so sending him to a new team might be what he needs. This is how the Bulls will try to entice other teams to send more than he’s worth. While they may not get as much as they are looking for it’s certain that Markkanen won’t be on the roster soon.
Markkanen doesn’t want to be in Chicago
Markkanen has made it known that he has no desire to stay in Chicago. He was interviewed by a Finnish journalist and told them he wants a fresh start. He even went as far as unfollowing all Chicago Bull’s social media and changing his bio to no longer include info about the Bulls. His desire to move on means he will likely take a lot less money to leave Chicago. This is again where the Bulls have leverage. The qualifying offer has been extended and if no team is offering more then Markkanen has no choice. He will have to take less money to move to a new team. Markkanen bet on himself and he lost. Now he’s mad at the Bulls like they did something.
Lauri Markkanen wanted an extension 9 months ago & Bulls wanted him back.
Problem is Lauri got greedy. Bet on himself & lost. Now worth less than CHI offered. Seems he's mad at the Bulls when the only one to blame is himself for not taking a fair offer the Bulls had made him. pic.twitter.com/IfHQ0ewahh
— Chicago Bulls Rumors (@chicagobullsbot) August 13, 2021
The Bulls knew the type of player Markkanen was and offered him accordingly. He didn’t like it and things didn’t work in his favor. If he’s adamant about getting off this Bulls team he will simply have to take less money. That means the Bulls will be working to get whatever they can in return. We’ve waited two weeks to see what will happen with Lauri. Hopefully, we can get some answers in the near future.