The New York Knicks are in dire need of spacing and shooting this offseason, and Lauri Markkanen should be at the top of their list of potential trade targets.
If the New York Knicks are looking for a potential star to trade for, then a door may have just been opened.
According to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Lauri Markkanen is upset with the current trajectory of the Chicago Bulls. More significantly for the rest of the NBA: Markkanen would rather play elsewhere if changes are not made.
"Make no mistake about it, third-year big man Lauri Markkanen was one unhappy camper before the coronavirus put the NBA on hiatus. Unhappy enough that if the direction of the organization was going to stay unchanged, he’d rather be elsewhere."
Markkanen regressed this season with the Bulls, posting averages of 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 42.5 percent shooting from the field.
His role in the offense under head coach Jim Boylen seems to be the root of Markkanen’s tensions with the organization. The Bulls shifted towards an analytics-driven approach this season, and Markkanen couldn’t quite find his groove.
He attempted a career-low 11.8 attempts per game, and the majority of his shots came from behind the three-point line. Only 4.1 percent of his attempts came from two-point range beyond 10 feet of the basket, a shift from the 17.9 percent he attempted the season prior.
He also played a career-low 29.8 minutes per game.
The Bulls, however, are revamping the front office and, more likely than not, the head coaching position. With John Paxson and Gar Forman on their way out, there will be various candidates who could replace them.
Regardless of who’s in charge of basketball operations in Chicago this offseason, team president Leon Rose should explore a trade involving Markkanen.
On paper, Markkanen is a perfect fit for the Knicks and their young core. At 22 years old, he fits the youth movement the organization has pushed for, and is far from reaching his prime as a player.
He’s proficient from midrange and thrives in the pick-and-pop. Those two offensive aspects can add another dimension to the Knicks’ offensive attack.
The Knicks ranked 29th in the league in points per game, 30th in three-pointers attempted, and 27th in three-point percentage this season.
The Knicks will have to learn from Chicago’s mistakes and let Markkanen vary his offensive approach. However, Markkanen would help the Knicks with these offensive numbers and would provide a valuable scorer to an offense that needs one.
The price for Markkanen may be the biggest roadblock in any such trade, however. The Bulls’ willingness to trade Markkanen will depend on who they hire in the front office, as well as the head coach.
Whether the Bulls commit to a full-blown rebuild or win-now approach, Markkanen’s future with the team will be in limbo.
Wendell Carter Jr., Markkanen’s frontcourt companion in Chicago, has publicly expressed his desire to move to the power forward position. The Bulls may have to choose between the two, and with Carter being the superior defender, Markkanen could be booted out of Chicago.
If the Bulls commit to a full-blown rebuild, the Knicks would have the assets to intrigue a team trying to position themselves for the future.
The Clippers’ 2020 first-round pick, the Mavericks’ first-round selections in 2021 and 2023, and a young prospect such as Frank Ntilikina or Kevin Knox would likely have to be in any offer involving Markkanen.
If the Bulls commit to winning now, however, the Knicks’ lack of veteran talent will be the drawback in any deal.
In that case, a Markkanen deal would be a tall task for the Knicks.
However, the likelihood of the Bulls committing to a win-now approach is slim. They have a clutter of young prospects that are poor defenders and have been one of the worst teams in the league with their current group.
The new management will likely shake up the roster, and with Markkanen’s displeasure with the Bulls, the odds of him being placed on the trading block are significant.
Whether or not the Bulls are fielding offers for Markkanen this offseason, the Knicks’ top trade target should be the 7-footer for his ability to help the team’s young core grow and bolster the subpar offense.
Lauri Markkanen is the ideal replacement for the New York Knicks at the power forward position.