Despite being on the quiet side of free agency, the Celtics have made some minor moves to improve. On Tuesday, Boston signed point guard Dennis Schroder with its mid-level exception.
Now, the Celtics are showing interest in the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
“Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, and Minnesota have all shown interest in signing Markkanen to deals worth around $15 million in average annual value,” Fischer wrote. “The Bulls are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for helping facilitate the transaction. Additionally, Chicago brass are requiring Markkanen’s new team to find a third trade partner to take on the outgoing salary needed to create space for Markkanen’s contract.”
The Celtics do not have any more cap space after the Schroder signing, so a sign-and-trade will be the only option. That gets complicated, however, because Markkanen will be a base-year compensation player. So, matching his salary is not as easy.
The Boston front office could get creative with the sign-and-trade to match salary, but the Bulls will require draft capital. Plus, a third team will most likely want some picks too.
“For a third team to take on unwanted salary, this hypothetical front office would also ask for draft-pick compensation,” Fischer wrote. “So any team that wants to add Markkanen now would have to send a first-round pick to Chicago and likely another first or two second-rounders elsewhere.”
Markkanen is a young, talented player. He’s a 7-footer who can stretch the floor and shoot from deep. In his four-year career, Markkanen has averaged 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He would help the Celtics immediately, but he’s simply not worth all of that draft capital.
Boston would have to send away a good amount of young players and draft picks for one guy. Plus, the sign-and-trade would need to be at least three years, which would hurt the Celtics’ ability to offer a max contract in 2022. Not to mention, they are currently working out an extension for Marcus Smart.
Markkanen is great, but financially it just does not make sense for the Celtics. His price is too high and would handcuff the team in the future.