Reports: Bulls trade Markkanen to Cavaliers
The Bulls finally found a new home for Lauri Markkanen, sending him to Cleveland in a three-way sign-and-trade deal, according to multiple reports.
In return, the Bulls are getting 6-5 forward Derrick Jones Jr. and a protected first-round draft pick from Portland, while the Cavs are sending forward Larry Nance Jr. to the Blazers. The Bulls will also receive Denver's 2023 second-round pick from the Cavs.
Markkanen was a centerpiece of the original trade with Minnesota that kicked off the Bulls rebuild in 2017, chosen with the No. 7 pick of that draft.
He flashed some potential, especially in his second season when he averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. During a 16-game stretch from Jan. 27 to Mar. 5, 2019, he averaged an impressive 23.6 points and 13 rebounds. Those were the sort of numbers that would put him in elite territory.
But the 7-foot Finland native faded and never came close to matching that stretch.
He had to deal with three different head coaches and multiple injuries during his time in Chicago.
But he also didn't respond well to opposing teams playing more physical against him after that hot streak.
Markkanen's playing time dropped last season as coach Billy Donovan turned to veteran Thad Young more often and by the end of the season, it was a foregone conclusion that Markkanen wouldn't be back when he hit restricted free-agency.
One positive was Markkanen finally had a breakthrough as a 3-point shooter last year, connecting on a career-high 40.2 percent.
With this trade, there are just two players left on the roster from when Arturas Karnisovas took over as head of basketball operations in April, 2020 -- Zach LaVine and Coby White.
Jones gives the Bulls a second slam-dunk champion on the roster.
He won the 2020 event in Chicago, while LaVine won twice early in his career while he played for the Timberwolves.
Jones' best season was in 2019-20 when he averaged 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds for Miami in 2019-20 and played a small role in the Heat's run to the NBA Finals.
The 24-year-old is due to make $9.73 million this season in the final year of his contract.
The Bulls have 13 players under contract, plus two-way player Devon Dotson.
They have a strong need for another power forward, but will be leery of the payroll hitting $136.6 million, which would trigger the luxury tax.
The payroll figures to rise next year when LaVine gets a new contract and there are further penalties of teams that stay above the tax threshold multiple years.