Mock trade suggests Markkanen should keep his bags packed

The Utah Jazz recently landed Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and picks for three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell. I believe that all three new players will be starters for the Jazz next season, but rumors are swirling that the Finnish forward might not be in Utah for long.

A recent blog post by FanNation had the Jazz sending Markkanen to the Thunder for Darius Bazley, Derrick Favors, and a pick. In all honesty, that haul is pretty good for a third-option guy.

Jazz Get

Darius Bazley

Derrick Favors

future FRP

Thunder Get

Lauri Markkanen

Bazley is a solid 21-year-old power forward who has shown steady improvement in most areas of his game. Standing at 6’8”, he is not a knockdown shooter from deep like Markkanen, but his younger age fits the Utah rebuild much better. He is an upgrade on defense and has the potential to be a solid starter for many, many years.

Derrick Favors is a familiar face and is somehow seventh all-time on Utah’s win shares leaderboard. Well past his prime, he is probably only included in this trade for salary cap purposes, although the Jazz do need help down low, so Favors would see a shocking amount of court time.

The real prize in the proposed trade is an upcoming first-round pick. The Thunder have so many that they can give them away like candy, and the Jazz are building a stockpile of their own. In my mind, the pick alone makes it almost worth it, but it doesn’t quite seal the deal for me. I think Markkanen, 25, can be a great starter for the Jazz and he is exactly the kind of guy a team needs to finish a rebuild faster than rivals. That’s why the Thunder are linked to him: with Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC might want to win now, and a floor-spacing forward could help with that.

The Thunder want him for the same reason the Jazz would keep him, so it would take more than one pick to sweeten the pot. On top of that, I honestly don’t see the Thunder making this offer. Last year, they were really bad but drafted franchise savior Chet Holmgren second overall. One issue with: Holmgren is out all year with a foot injury that suffered this summer. That means Oklahoma City is in the perfect position to run it back, draft a top-tier player in a stacked draft class, and then have a young core of Giddey, Shai, Holmgren, and an unnamed rookie. Of all the teams most likely to tank, the Thunder are the leaders of the race, and trading for Markkanen would just hurt their chances.

On paper, the move makes sense. The Thunder don’t want talent quite yet, and the Jazz should hold what remaining talent they have. While it’s a fun idea, the trade is not realistic for anyone.

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