3 Lauri Markkanen trades to shift the balance of power in the NBA

The Utah Jazz could listen to trade offers for All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen. These teams should take interest.

Lauri Markkanen, Harrison Barnes
Lauri Markkanen, Harrison Barnes / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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1. Knicks can cash in with Lauri Markkanen trade

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The New York Knicks are known to be patiently waiting for the right star to splurge on. Leon Rose and the Knicks front office have a full complement of picks at their disposal, along with salary filler and young talent. The Jazz can gamble on the evident growth of R.J. Barrett and New York's draft future in exchange for Markkanen, who would meaningfully elevate New York's standing in the East.

It's clear the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks occupy their own tier in the East, with a petition to let the Philadelphia 76ers join contingent on their postseason performance. The Knicks have been heavily connected to Joel Embiid, but that's a pipe dream. Donovan Mitchell is great, but I'm not convinced he's better for New York's current group than Markkanen.

Rather than another small guard who weakens the defense and takes touches away from Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, the Knicks can invest in a jumbo-sized wing that stretches the floor, attacks within the flow of the offense, and adequately defends a couple positions. Markkanen accentuates New York's creators. Mitchell, not so much.

The Knicks could decide to tap into their guard glut to meet Utah's asking price instead, but R.J. Barrett feels rather redundant once Markkanen arrives. I'd bet on figuring out the right minutes combination for Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, and Donte DiVincenzo, all of whom can contribute to winning on a contender. There's no such thing as too many quality guards, only players disgruntled with Tom Thibodeau's lack of imagination. Markkanen doesn't fix that particular problem, but he does improve New York's stature all the same.

Bucks red-hot offense, Warriors new starters. Bucks red-hot offense, Warriors new starters. dark. THE WHITEBOARD