Look, I understand. It’s frustrating seeing Marvin Bagley continually insinuate that he wants out of town through liked posts on Twitter or by family members criticizing the team’s decisions. If the Sacramento Kings were dating, I’d agree the relationship is toxic and it would be best for both sides if things just ended then and there. And by that logic, maybe the Kings would be much better off looking for a new man that can satisfy their needs.
But the Kings are not dating Marvin Bagley, are they? And Lauri Markkanen is most certainly not Prince Charming. What started as a potential way to capitalize on Chicago’s own disgruntled power forward on a rookie contract has for many people evolved into a chance to swap Bagley for Markkanen.
I’ll be the first to admit that Bagley is not the answer moving forward, and the Kings would be better off looking for a different long-term solution at the four. But the first solution is very rarely the best solution. In this case, it would be better to invest in a player that complements the strengths of the Kings’ core players — De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton — and compensates for their weaknesses.
Neither Bagley nor Markkanen has the skill set to do these things, which is why I firmly believe that pursuing the Finnish sharpshooter would ultimately do more harm than good for the Sacramento Kings and handicap their financial flexibility for the future.
Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is one of the most interesting players on the trade block, but the Sacramento Kings would do well to stay far away.
I still believe Bagley can become a quality NBA player, just not with the Kings. The same applies to Markkanen, just not with the Bulls (nor the Kings, please). There’s a lot of value to be had in a 7-footer that can drill three-pointers at above a 40 percent clip on high volume. In fact, this lone skill earned Davis Bertans a five-year, $80 million deal with Washington. If the market hadn’t surprisingly dried up this summer and had Markkanen not tanked his own value, it’s very likely he could have been seeing a deal even bigger than the one Bertans received.
This brings me to a significant reason why Markkanen would not be an upgrade over Bagley. If things don’t pan out with Bagley (they won’t), Sacramento can just cut their ties and be done with him following the 2021-22 season. At the very least, there’s likely to be a suitor at the trade deadline that would value Bagley as a reclamation project entering restricted free agency.
However, if the Kings were to sign-and-trade for Markkanen, then they’d be putting all their eggs in Lauri’s basket. If he doesn’t become the player the team thinks he can, then the Kings risk wasting Fox’s prime and beginning the tired “disgruntled star requests trade” cycle all over again. Richaun Holmes extended this team a huge olive branch by signing for as little as he did, let’s not ruin that on Lauri Markkanen of all people, ok?
Speaking of Holmes, there’s no chance that frontcourt ever becomes a positive on the defensive side of things. Holmes’ lack of size and Markkanen’s lack of physicality are a recipe for disaster. I mean, if you could combine the two together I’m sure they’d make for a fine player but until we discover this technology we’re stuck with what we’ve got.
Lauri’s one saving grace is his shooting. And for other teams, he could be tremendously helpful. But for the Sacramento Kings, who are actively trying to trade away the third-best shooter in the league, he makes no sense.
If I could lend one piece of advice to Monte McNair, it would be to stay on the current path and exercise caution in the face of temptation. Lest we end up a younger version of Bertans $80 million.