Jazz Mailbag: What Could Jazz Get For Lauri Markkanen?

Dec 19, 2023, 3:50 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen passes the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen passes the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies (Credit: Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

(Credit: Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

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Then, we’ll respond to as many as we can in that week’s mailbag.

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Jazz Mailbag: Should Jazz Shop Lauri Markkanen?

Q: Which teams do you think could make that kind of offer, would you prioritize young players or picks or both, or would you simply not trade him?

A: Glen thank you for the response and I will try to address these questions as completely as possible, but I will start in reverse order.

First and foremost, if I were calling the shots, I would have little to no interest in trading Lauri Markkanen.

He is by no means a perfect player, but he checks so many critical boxes that are difficult to replace that I don’t know how you could realistically get equal value back, sans acquiring a superstar-caliber player.

Markkanen has truly elite size and athleticism, and is a deadly scorer at all three levels. That’s the definition of a unicorn, and the Jazz have one of only a few of those players that exist on the planet.

Then mix in the fact that he likes Utah, and his care factor matches his enormous talent, and you have a borderline generational player if he continues to develop (and he’s already pretty spectacular).

With that out of the way, in a hypothetical world where the Jazz did trade the All-Star, should they prioritize young players or picks, or both?

My answer to this is a definitive both. The Jazz don’t have to trade Markkanen. He likes his role in Utah, and I would be stunned if he wouldn’t excitedly re-sign with the team when his contract expires in the summer of 2025.

So, with nobody twisting the team’s arm to make the deal, they’d have to be truly blown away to get a deal done.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote that the Jazz would look for deals that rivaled what they got for Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and I might argue that that is too little.

As fabulous as Gobert has been this season, he is still entering the backend of his career, while his contract continues to grow.

Mitchell was going to leave Utah when his contract expired, so there was a clock ticking to get that deal done.

The longer the Jazz held onto either player the less they were going to get in those trades, so they struck while the iron was hot.

I don’t think that same ticking clock applies to Markkanen, so unless a team came in with a trade package that included multiple likely top 10 first-round draft picks, and additional young players with clear All-Star level upside, I’d avoid moving the 26-year-old All-Star.

Now finally, circling back to your first question, what teams could make that type of offer?

The truth is it’s not many.

Teams that trade for Markkanen are doing so because they want to win now, and those teams generally aren’t flush with young talent, or high-level future draft picks.

But, let’s look at a team that might fit the mold.

The Indiana Pacers jump out as the most obvious team that is likely to make the playoffs this year, and could actually make some noise with Markkanen on their roster, while still having lots of young talent and future draft picks.

The Pacers could conceivably offer a package that included All-Rookie First Team guard Bennedict Mathurin who was the sixth overall pick last season, Jarace Walker who was the eighth pick this year, Ben Sheppard who was the 26th pick this year, and any combination of two future first round picks in a deal for Markkanen.

The Jazz would get a young guard with high upside in Mathurin, a potential wing replacement for Markkanen in Walker, and three flyers in Sheppard and the two future unprotected first rounders.

But, it would signal a full-blown rebuild in Utah, would likely spur a fire sale for every other veteran on the roster, and even then, the Jazz have no guarantee that they would get a player in return who can match Markkanen’s talent.

Sacramento could offer a package built around Keegan Murray and multiple picks, the Thunder could do something similar built around Jalen Williams, and the Spurs could build a compelling package with Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan, but otherwise, the options for combining young players and picks are relatively thin.

Q: What’s the trade value of our players that are most likely to be traded?

A: Another good question from Cam, and one that I think is harder to answer, but I will tell you what I know.

I have heard from multiple places that Kelly Olynyk is the name that most teams have inquired about when they are calling the Jazz with trade offers.

With his plug-and-play skillset as a big floor spacer, his 48 career playoff appearances, and his easy-to-swallow $12 million expiring contract, there should be a robust market for Olynyk before February’s deadline.

But what does that mean?

The Jazz are very unlikely to get a first-round pick for a player who will be a free agent in just a few months, and any young player they would get back would likely have some flaws to their game that have caused them to fall out of favor in their current situation.

Could the Cavaliers offer former lottery pick Isaac Okoro who appears to be nearing the end of his run in Cleveland? Would the Golden State Warriors move off of Moses Moody?

Those types of offers might be more enticing for the Jazz than the low-level second-rounders that several teams are likely to offer before the deadline.

Otherwise, I’ve heard very little buzz about the rest of the Jazz roster that would excite Jazz fans.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Mailbag: What Could Jazz Get For Lauri Markkanen?