WHY!!!! That is what I have been asking myself for the last hour since the trade became official. If you are just coming to, then you do not yet know that the Cavs have acquired Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls. Even if this was only a free-agent signing, it would be bad. But worse, it was a three-deal deal and a key asset was moved.
Larry Nance Jr. is on his way to Portland as part of a trade also involving Derrick Jones Jr. and some draft picks. Nance was the NBA’s leader in deflections for a good chunk of last season. Steals as well. He’s a tremendous defender who has put the work in to fix his offensive game. And now, the most versatile Cavalier is no longer on the team.
Markkanen joins the fray as they are still yet to get rid of Kevin Love and his albatross of a contract. This is bad. The Cavs are making a big mistake.
Markkanen’s Poor Health
Lauri Markkanen has never exactly had a track record for being healthy. He missed 14 games as a rookie, 30 as a sophomore, 15 in his third year and another 21 last season. This doesn’t seem that hefty, but it means he can’t be counted on to consistently be on the floor for this year’s Cavs.
We are talking about a player who was a lottery pick and supposed to be one of the key pieces when Chicago traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. And he was not good enough. Not by any sort of standard. And when he got back from injury a season ago, he lost his starting role to Thaddeus Young.
The proof is in the pudding, Markkanen doesn’t know how to remain on the floor with regularity. And if you are getting minutes taken away by a guy who hasn’t started consistently in the league in a few years, well, that isn’t good. Thad had a big season, But, that is beside the point.
His Play Has Worsened
Markkanen was never exactly a dominant player. But he did average 19 and nine rebounds during his sophomore campaign. All in all, he showed that he can be a winning player at times. But he has not been as good the past two years.
I don’t care that he shot 40% from three last year. He averaged a career-low 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. His assist numbers were down. He shot the ball a career-low number of times. They didn’t add a ton from the prior year coming into the season.
He didn’t show any signs of progress. So, on a Cavs team that has established playmakers in their backcourt, how many attempts per game might he log?
Let’s not pretend Billy Donovan did a good job with the Bulls a season ago. But, it’s not his fault that Lauri just wasn’t as aggressive. It wasn’t fun to watch for Bulls fans, or NBA fans alike. As somebody who had Lauri on their fantasy team for much of the year, it was a pain in the keister.
What About the Other Bigs?
Sure, Markkanen might have a sweet touch. He might be 7’0. But, he has a lot of holes in his game. And, now, he’s going to be taking some minutes from other guys who may have been more deserving.
Dean Wade isn’t anything special, really. He’s a big man who is capable of knocking down the three-ball at a high rate. Lamar Stevens has put a lot of time in to his game, and might get zero run. That might have been the case even without the trade, but there is a little-to-no opportunity now.
My personal hope was to see Evan Mobley as the opening day starting PF next to Jarrett Allen. He can split his time at the 4/5. But now, with Love still here and Lauri now on the squad, most of his burn might be coming as a backup center. And Allen can provide 29-31 mins per night.
This could hurt Mobley’s development, considering that the Fro did just ink a five-year extension.
Lauri Markkanen’s game will shine with the Cavs 👏 pic.twitter.com/iDnNFWZ0uP
— Cavs Nation (@CavsNationCP) August 27, 2021
Final Grades for Cavs Signing Markkanen
For Portland, acquiring a guy like Larry Nance Jr. is just what they needed. He will provide a lot of value both as a stretch four and small-ball center off the bench. They get an A-.
For Chicago, moving Markkanen and acquiring an athletic wing in Derrick Jones Jr. is perfect. DJJ doesn’t need to play a big role on offense, and he can improve the team’s D along with rising sophomore Patrick Williams. They also received picks in the trade. They get an A.
And Cleveland. Trading Nance Jr. probably wasn’t easy. But now he’s gone. He is a Cavalier no more. And in his place is a one-dimensional player who is prone to struggling for long periods of time. There isn’t anything good in it for the Wine & Golders. They get a D+. Defense worsens. Fewer minutes for Mobley.