What happens with Lauri Markkanen this offseason will dictate a lot

If the Utah Jazz end up extending Lauri Markkanen it may be a sign that the team is ready to compete.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Utah Jazz
Cleveland Cavaliers v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

What is the 2024 offseason going to look like? It's a question we've long been asking and one that will likely dictate the next few years of Utah Jazz basketball. The speculation on who to draft, who to sign, who to trade, and other aspects of the organization are going to be hotly contested for months, but none of them will give us a better idea of what to expect going forward than the future of Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen, in the final year of his contract with the Utah Jazz, is someone that Danny Ainge is on record saying he'd like to retain. Now, does that mean he'd like to re-up Markkanen's deal only to later trade him, or is he looking to compete sooner rather than later? It's unlikely that Markkanen is given a new deal, just to later trade him, ala Jordan Clarkson.

Clarkson got an extension that many saw as a way to up his trade value. It may end up working, considering his contract decreases this upcoming season, but it hasn't netted the Jazz any actual help in the form of draft picks or new players just yet. It's likely that the Jazz may be able to flip him, but it won't be for a lot.

Markkanen, on the other hand, is a guy with a lot of upside who would do well for any number of NBA teams. The only problem with Markkanen is that his contract is about to run out. He's going to get paid, it's just a matter of who pays him. Would the Utah Jazz give him a new deal this summer, only to shop him around during and after the season? That possibility does exist, but Markkanen isn't Clarkson.

Anyone getting Markkanen knows they're getting a Top 25 player, and they know he'll demand a lot of money. So it's just more likely that Markkanen gets traded with one year on his contract, as part of a signing-and-trade situation, as it is he gets traded after formalizing a new contract with the Jazz.

If he signs a new contract with the Jazz, then the Jazz are likely to build around him. Markkanen wants to win. He isn't going to stick around a franchise that's just going to use him and flip him when the time comes. If he signs a new deal, it'll likely be due to the fact that he's happy with the moves that Danny Ainge and company are making with the Utah Jazz.

If the Jazz aren't committed to competing, Markkanen has no reason to re-sign, only to then have no control over where he goes and have to play out the rest of his contract. If Markkanen is going to get traded, it's likely he'll have some input on where he goes, so that he can negotiate a new deal with his new team as part of any Jazz trade.

So, it's far likely that not only do the Jazz build around Markkanen if he gets a new contract this season, but it's also far more likely that the Jazz will actively try and push for the playoffs in 2025.