Acquiring Lauri Markkanen is a risky move for the Dallas Mavericks
No one doubts Markkanen’s scoring ability. More than just a 3-point shooter, he can score off the dribble and spot up in the mid-range with deadly marksmanship. He holds a career-high of 35 points, which he’s tallied twice in his young career, and he’s nabbed 19 rebounds in a game. While Chicago opted to bring him off the bench in about half of his appearances last season, his scoring dip was marginal when compared to his career average.
It’s entirely possible that Markkanen could elevate his game in a way Kleber was never truly able to with Doncic, but would the offensive production be able to offset the express lane Dallas’s frontcourt would grant opposing players to the rim? More so, would the pair even appear in enough games together to truly benefit from the mismatch they would present teams?
Dallas is reportedly interested in signing Markkanen at around $15M per season, but are believed to be reluctant to part with Kleber or offer up the 1st round pick the Bulls are seeking, thereby maintaining the stalemate.
While Markkanen’s fit alongside Porzingis is a troubling one, and frankly his health is equally concerning, the name of the game is talent acquisition, and Markkanen is an unmistakable talent. That Dallas could presumably acquire him for a declining, if still beloved, Maxi Kleber is a major opportunity that doesn’t come along often.
If Dallas were to part with Kleber in a different trade sometime in the future, it’s doubtful they would do so in exchange for a player of Markkanen’s caliber or age. As such, it’s a deal the Mavs should take now with the determination that they will figure out the fit later.
Worst case scenario, if Markkanen doesn’t work out in the long-term in Dallas alongside Porzingis, the Mavs have some built-in flexibility due to the redundancy their skillsets offer the team, and $15M per year stings a whole lot less than an average of $33.33M over the next three seasons. Food for thought.