Four Potential Trade Ideas For Jazz Star Lauri Markkanen

The NBA’s free agent period began earlier this week, and after the initial frenzy, we have a sense of what rosters are going to look across the league. That makes it a little easier to turn our attention from the free agent market to the trade market, as there are a number of players who are reportedly available for moves.

At the top of the list is Lauri Markkanen, who has turned into an All-Star with the Utah Jazz. A good player whose size and shooting could help a number of teams, Markkanen is about to enter the final year of his contract at a very reasonably $18 million, making him an affordable addition for a year before he gets what should be a big money extension. While his current value contract makes it easier to match money to trade for him, any team dealing for him would likely want some assurance that he’d be willing to sign an extension as soon as allowed, because Utah will be asking for a huge return.

Dealing with Utah can be tricky, as Danny Ainge has a reputation for driving a hard bargain. Still, with Utah being one of the teams that looks primed to enter the Cooper Flagg sweepstakes, we wanted to identify which teams should, for one reason or another, try to swing for the fences and bring Markkanen on board.

Golden State Warriors

If any team should probably be desperate to bring Markkanen on board, it’s the Warriors, which just lost Klay Thompson and don’t seem to have much of an answer for how they’ll handle Steph Curry’s twilight other than hope their young guys can lift the collective (which isn’t a terrible bet). They did pursue Paul George, which reportedly fell apart because they couldn’t figure out a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Markkanen would be an unbelievable fit alongside Curry and Draymond Green, and he’s young enough that the team could stomach giving him a long-term deal. They have all of their future firsts outside of the top-20 protected 2030 pick they attached to Jordan Poole to salary dump him to the Wizards for Chris Paul (who is no longer on the team), and have effectively two packages they can offer. One is with Jonathan Kuminga as the centerpiece along with some picks and salary filler, but given they were reportedly not willing to include him in Paul George talks, it’s hard to imagine they part with him in a Markkanen trade. The other option is to attach picks and another young player to Andrew Wiggins’ salary. The Wiggins aspect of this makes me wonder if the Jazz could squeeze a little extra out of the Warriors, but regardless, Golden State has to position itself to compete before Curry’s career comes to an end. Markkanen would help.

The Trade:
Golden State gets: Lauri Markkanen
Utah gets: Andrew Wiggins, Brandin Podziemski, unprotected first-round picks in 2025 and 2027, first-round pick swaps in 2029 and 2031

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs do seem happy to slow play the first year or two of the Victor Wembanyama era, particularly as they continue to develop and find out what they have in the young guys around him — they’re also positioned pretty nicely to take one more big swing in the NBA Draft next year, whether that’s Cooper Flagg or someone else. Still, while Wembanyama is the kind of guy who can fit next to anyone, a 1-2 frontcourt punch of himself and Markkanen would be a nightmare for opposing teams to deal with, and I think you can make the case that San Antonio would both take a step forward and still be far enough away in a loaded Western Conference that they’d be able to add a major player in the 2025 Draft.

Keldon Johnson (a solid player in his own right) could be the salary here, while San Antonio has an absolutely hilarious war chest of future draft picks that they can use to blow Utah away. If the Jazz would want to use a Markkanen deal as a way to get a pick-heavy package a la the Mikal Bridges trade to the Knicks, this is one of the few teams where they could get it.

The Trade:
San Antonio gets: Lauri Markkanen
Utah gets: Keldon Johnson, San Antonio’s 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, Chicago’s top-10 protected 2025 first-round pick, Boston’s 2029 first-round pick, Minnesota’s 2031 first-round pick

Oklahoma City Thunder

This is easily the most unnecessary team on this list, because the Thunder don’t really need Markkanen, especially after they signed Isaiah Hartenstein and made themselves the pretty clear-cut favorites to win the Western Conference this year. But boy, that’s another serious weapon to put alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren. Would Sam Presti, who is notoriously calculated and has usually taken the long view throughout his career, want to go that all-in? It’s fair to question that, but Markkanen would be one hell of an addition and an incredible fit as another player who can stretch the floor.

The interesting thing here is that the Thunder could make something work with Lu Dort as the salary going out due to the Alex Caruso trade, and if they need to sweeten the pot with young players, a guy like Jaylin Williams or 2024 first-round pick Nikola Topic could pique Utah’s interest. And of course, Oklahoma City has been hoarding draft picks forever, which means they, like the Spurs, can throw a ton of picks into a deal and keep

The Trade:
Oklahoma City gets: Lauri Markkanen
Utah gets: Lu Dort, Jaylin Williams, Oklahoma City’s 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, Denver’s top-5 protected 2027 first-round pick, Dallas’ 2028 first-round pick, any three second-round picks Oklahoma City currently has.

New Orleans Pelicans

This is the hardest one to figure out, but as New Orleans is trying to figure out what to do with Brandon Ingram and how to best build a roster around Zion Williamson and Dejounte Murray, seeing if there’s something that could be done with the Pelicans and Markkanen would be sensible. It’s clear that the Ingram and Williamson pairing does not work, and after adding Murray in a trade, the Pelicans could really use to add some more shooting. Someone like Markkanen — who is more of a catch-and-shoot threat and wouldn’t always want to operate in similar parts of the floor as Williamson, but could also be the top option if he misses time — is a much more natural fit, and is only 3.5 months older than Ingram. New Orleans would have to pay him, like, right away, but he’d make sense as a guy who gets a bag from them.

The big question here: Would Utah want Ingram? I don’t think they would, unless the team views him as a guy whose reputation they could rehab before they flip him. So, what if we pulled in a third team that could use a guy with Ingram’s ability to score on the wing. The Kings have been connected to every wing on the trade market, including Ingram and Markkanen, and if they didn’t have the draft assets to land Lauri, they might be able to pull in Ingram by sending out a first and Portland’s unprotected second (which figures to end up somewhere from 31-35) next year along with the Harrison Barnes/Kevin Huerter package that’s been floating around for some time and could net Utah some more picks in future deals.

The Trade:
New Orleans gets: Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson
Sacramento gets: Brandon Ingram
Utah gets: Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, a 2025, 2027, and 2029 first-round pick from New Orleans, a 2028 first round pick from the Kings, and Portland’s 2025 second round pick from the Kings