The Boston Celtics have seemingly wrapped up their offseason with the signing of Dennis Schroder, as they sit a few bucks shy of the salary cap apron which Stevens has made clear he does not want to touch.
Given the parameters the Celts are working in, it’s fair to consider throwing in the towel and deal with that depth until someone becomes available, and that would be the assumption if not for a rumor earlier this week.
The Chicago Bulls have made a lot of acquisitions this offseason after missing the playoffs last season.
They are poised to make some noise in the regular season and maybe even the playoffs depending on how their pieces acclimate to their new environment, but there’s still one piece left for them to deal with.
Lauri Markkanen entered this summer as a restricted free agent and has reportedly asked for a $15 million extension from Chicago, a number the Bulls are unwilling to meet.
Not only is Markkanen not worth that mark, but the Bulls also don’t have the financial flexibility to meet his terms with Zach LaVine’s extension coming up. It’s likely the big and the Bulls part ways this offseason, which begs the question — who will pick up the fifth-year power forward out of Arizona?
Enter the Boston Celtics, who reportedly emerged as a potential suitor for Markkanen.
Although the Boston Celtics don’t have the money to pay him, they have contracts to make the deal happen, such as Richardson’s or Smart’s, and they need a backup power forward.
Although I’m not fond of giving up either, especially Smart, for Markkanen since both are better, it’s worth diving into what the stretch big could potentially give the Boston Celtics if he were to fall into their lap.
The good and bad of Lauri Markkanen offense
Beginning with the pros of Markkanen’s offensive capabilities, he offers a fair bit of skill sets the Boston Celtics could make work within their offense.
His best attribute is his shooting, hitting 40.5 percent of his 5.6 catch and shoot triples this past season. Overall, he ranked in the 81st percentile on post-ups and shot 83 percent from the line, all exceptional marks for a big man.
He can play within his role, coming off a very productive, low-volume season with the Bulls in which he averaged 13.6 points per game on 62 TS% while flip-flopping between starting and coming off the bench.
His shooting allows him to be such a productive scorer, but he possesses an interesting post-up game that the Cs could help unlock, ranking within the 95th percentile on post-ups last season but all on low volume.
Ultimately, Markkanen projects a floor spacer with a solid post-up game that can get hot off the bench with the Boston Celtics, but nothing more.
The cons of Markkanen’s offense are much less attractive than his pros.
He has what I like to call “KP Syndrome,” which means he’s afraid to touch the paint despite possessing the physical traits to be a dominant paint scorer. He refused to roll and refused to draw contact in the post, averaging 2.3 paint touches and 1.8 free throw attempts.
His unwillingness to touch the paint has led to a finishing learning curve, shooting 52 percent on layups despite standing at a daunting 7-feet tall.
He’s confined to the perimeter, where he is equally limited, shooting in the low 20s on pull-ups and lacking an adequate amount of counters to free himself up when the 3-point line is taken away from him.
He moves very rigidly, leading to some chaotic possessions after putting the ball on the floor. The Boston Celtics would be fools to expect any self-creation out of Markkanen.
Outside of his scoring, he doesn’t offer much. He’s an indecisive and inexperienced passer that doesn’t set good screens for his ball-handlers. The Cs would be signing a spot-up threat and occasional post-up scorer and nothing more, literally.
The pros and cons of Lauri Markkanen defense’s defense are a bit more perplexing.
Outside of some flashes, there aren’t too many good things to say about the youngster’s production on the less glamorous side of the ball.
He’s a big body but has equally big feet, and his contact woes on the offensive end bleed into the defensive end. He can keep bigger and slower bodies at bey for a short while, but that’s where his impact stops.
Markkanen is seen as a negative defensive contributor by most metrics, boasting a -0.8 D-RAPTOR, and the film backs up the data. He makes poor rotations as a power forward, one of the most crucial help-side defensive positions, and he gets cooked by smaller guards when asked to defend screenplays.
I’d say he could be more helpful in drop, but his inability to leverage his size for unknown reasons makes him unplayable at almost every place on the defensive end.
Is Markkanen worth a deal and a roster spot?
The Boston Celtics need to fix their power forward depth before Jayson Tatum gets burned out before the playoffs.
Coming off a season where he played nearly 36 minutes, then won gold in the Olympics, only to be asked to take an MVP leap in 2021-22 is a recipe for injury disaster. Getting a playable power forward to give Tatum some breathers should be at the top of the priority list for the Boston Celtics.
Markkanen possesses unique abilities that give him a good case to be that backup four.
However, given the price Markkanen wants teams to meet, the Celts would have to offer him a three-year deal per the NBA’s sign and trade rules, so I doubt an agreement happens between the two clubs.
If the Bulls rescind their offer to Markkanen, he brings his price down, and the shamrocks find a way to free up some money, then I’d be down for the big man in Boston.
However, until that happens, I am opposed to the Markkanen sweepstakes for Boston and suggest they chase smaller fish like Paul Millsap.