Houston Rocket free-agent forward target #2: Lauri Markkanen
If the Rockets want to sign Lauri Markkanen they’ll have to pony up a sizable chunk of change to do so but it could end up being an awfully good move. The Bulls still have the right to match an offer made to him in restricted free agency but their current ambitions and salary cap situation might see them priced out fairly quickly.
The Bulls will have cap space this summer but it’s a question of whether or not they want to commit close to $20 million a season to a player who hasn’t been a starter for them since the Nikola Vucevic trade. They’d be right to use that amount of money to land a player who fits more seamlessly into their starting lineup, as opposed to committing $20 million to a bench player.
The Bulls’ rather tedious roster construction could be a boon for the Rockets. Markkanen is a knock-down shooter, something the Rockets have sorely lacked and could be an excellent stretch-four next to Christian Wood.
His defense is uninspiring but Wood has actually performed better as the lone center on defense than initially expected so it might not be as much of an issue as one would expect. Players of Markkanen’s age and talent are rarely available in free agency for a reason and the Rockets should be worrying about defensive fit a season after finishing with the worst record in the league.
Talent is king in the NBA and Markkanen has that in abundance. The Rockets should be willing to pay the sticker price for Markkanen because seven-footers who can hit almost 40-percent of their threes don’t exactly grow on trees.