Although Chet Holmgren is out for the 2022-23 season, he’s still a huge part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s future plans. As such, the team should be thinking about players that would fit well with him as a frontcourt partner in the starting lineup down the road.
As of today, Oklahoma City doesn’t have a solidified power forward of the future. The Thunder have a ton of draft picks moving forward in which they could find that guy, or they could opt to trade for someone more proven and experienced as the rebuild potentially gets expedited as early as next summer.
One name OKC should consider is Lauri Markkanen, who was recently traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz in the Donovan Mitchell trade.
Markkanen is entering the second season of his four-year, $67.47 million deal. He’ll make less than $18 million annually between now and the summer of 2025 in which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That’s a very manageable contract that a team like the Thunder should be fine paying.
Being brand new to the Jazz, there’s no guarantee he’s a guy they view as part of their long-term plans. If Utah wants to further strip down the roster and start from scratch, Markkanen could be a player that’s traded to gain more flexible assets.
The Thunder have a need for another 7-footer to pair with Holmgren, especially one that can score the ball and stretch the floor.
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Oklahoma City has a ton of draft capital and a surplus of young, promising players that could be leveraged in a deal for Markkanen. It all comes down to how the Jazz view him as part of their future plans and whether or not the Thunder want to start pushing chips in now or wait another year. The Thunder also have Derrick Favors, who is attractive in the sense that he’ll open over $10 million in cap space next summer for his team given he’s on an expiring deal.
It’s also worth noting that Markkanen cannot he traded until early in the upcoming season since he was recently moved. Regardless, there’s a clear path to these two teams doing business and coming up with a deal that’s mutually beneficial for both sides.
Oklahoma City receives: Lauri Markkanen
Utah receives: Darius Bazley, Derrick Favors and a protected future first-round pick