NBA Trade Rumors: Carving out two blockbuster trade offers that could help the Atlanta Hawks acquire Lauri Markkanen.
Utah Jazz all-star forward Lauri Markannen could reportedly be available in trade talks, which has added an impact player to the trade market. One team that has been connected early on and would make a lot of sense in a trade is the Atlanta Hawks.
After winning the Most Improved Player Award for a breakthrough 2022-23 season, the 7-footer is once again in the middle of another strong season. He is currently averaging 24 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field, 39.1% from three, and 87.5% from the line. This comes after he averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 49.9%/39.1%/87.5% splits last year.
The Hawks have once again been mired in frustrating inconsistent play for the third year in a row. Atlanta currently sits 12-18, even though we're in the middle of a historic run from Trae Young. It feels like the Hawks need to do *something*. They seemingly flirted with the idea of Pascal Siakam over the offseason, but no deal came together. That's still a possibility, but I think a move for Lauri Markkanen makes a lot of sense.
After a better-than-expected season last year (37-45) that saw them competing for a playoff spot down the stretch even after dealing Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have struggled to a 13-18 start this year. That has caused them to potentially look at unloading the likes of Markkanen in order to accumulate more assets. The Jazz already have a nauseating group of assets, but if it is not looking like they will compete this year, then it makes sense to move off of Markkanen.
The other big piece of whether the Jazz move him (and whether a team will be willing to give up the assets it takes to get him) will be his contract/extension situation. Markkanen is making 17.3 million this season (which is a very team-friendly number for what he brings). However, he only has one year of the team remaining after this year. Markkanen is due a partially guaranteed 18 million (which is just about 100% going to be fully guaranteed) for 2024/25. After that, he'll be a free agent. The Jazz must decide if they are willing to give Markkanen a large extension (potentially a max deal or close to it), knowing that they might not be close to contention.
Likewise, whatever team (and specifically the Hawks in this scenario) potentially trades for him must think through two questions- 1. Are they willing to/can they give Markkanen the large extension he'll covet(?), or 2. Are they willing to trade the pieces it will take in order to make the trade happen if the answer to either one of those two questions is no?
Lauri Markkanen could be a missing piece for the Atlanta Hawks
As the Hawks try to get where they have the potential to be, Markkanen could be an impact player that makes a lot of sense for them to acquire. He brings them another offensive option that can score from different levels and bring them more versatility.
I think the main issue among Hawks fans with a trade for Markkanen would be it potentially limiting the minutes of Jalen Johnson. That is why the Hunter version of this trade that we'll see later is probably the one the Hawks fans would want (because it would free up the minutes at the 3 for Johnson), but Hunter's injury (more on that later) complicates his involvement in any trades.
As with Hunter, the status of Dejounte Murray puts the Hawks in an interesting spot in any trade discussions. Reports have started to surface that other teams are making offers to the Hawks for Murray. While a straight-up trade of Murray-Markkanen would mostly work financially, it wouldn't really make sense for either team. So, I'm not saying that's why it's interesting. If Murray is moved in another move (or the Hawks plan on moving him), that could greatly change whether they go after Markkanen (and if so, what that package would look like as more assets potentially become available for the Hawks)
Looking at it, a Markkanen trade would be somewhat similar to the Hawks trade and ultimate extension with Murray. The Hawks gave up multiple unprotected first-rounders for Dejounte Murray, who had two years of team control left at the time (compared to 1.5 for Markkanen). The Hawks knew an extension wasn't a lock, but made the trade anyway. They were able to ultimately work out an extension this past offseason (after year one of the two remaining) with Murray.
Now let's look at these two potential trades.