Fans of the Utah Jazz perusing a list of the NBA’s remaining free agents could be forgiven for feeling uninspired. Paul Millsap could have filled a role, but Rudy Gay and Eric Pachall have already been signed to fill it. JJ Redick’s services could be useful, but Salt Lake City ain’t exactly New York. Lauri Markkanen, on the other hand, just feels a little unrealistic.
In fact, his mere status as a free agent in late August feels unrealistic. He’s the biggest name remaining in free agency by far, and the Jazz are cap-strapped as a veteran team with several above-replacement level players on the roster with commensurate contracts. Surely, the young Finnish stretch big can find a more fitting home than the Utah Jazz.
Nonetheless, the longer Markkanen’s name lingers atop the free agency big board, the more any proposal starts to look like its veering into crazier-things-have-happened territory. Markkanen seems to occupy an ambiguous placement in the league when it comes to assessing a fair contract. He is still just 24, and not far removed from being widely regarded as a future All-Star.
If that sounds a lot like a description of a player who’s set to earn a substantial payday, don’t tell Markkanen. He may be stuck accepting a one-year, prove-it deal in the same vein as Dennis Schroder’s pact with the Boston Celtics this offseason. If Markkanen is available at a similar short-term discount, here is the case for, and against, the Utah Jazz being the team to make him that offer.