Free Agency

Houston Rockets: “Pass or pursue” on Lauri Markkanen 

Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls
Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls / Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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Lauri Markkanen, Aaron Nesmith, Houston Rockets
Boston Celtics v Chicago Bulls / Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Why the Houston Rockets should Pass on Lauri Markkanen

The Rockets are in a rebuild and bringing in a player like Lauri Markkanen simply doesn’t make sense right now. Here are three simple reasons that the Rockets should pass on Lauri Markkanen.

Reason #3 Why the Houston Rockets should Pass on Lauri Markkanen: Defense

Markkanen has never been a plus defender. In fact, he has graded out as a net negative on defense every season of his career. His lack of defense doesn’t make him a bad player but it limits his appeal to the Rockets. 

The Rockets already have two offensively gifted frontcourt players in Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun with questions on defense. Adding Markkanen to the mix would only increase their need for a true defensive anchor. 

Center and power forward are the two most important defensive positions. The Rockets defense can’t afford to have three negatives there. 

Reason #2 Why the Houston Rockets should Pass on Lauri Markkanen: Crowded frontcourt 

As mentioned earlier, the Rockets already have a crowded frontcourt. Christian Wood is entrenched as a starter, they went out and signed Daniel Theis in free agency and drafted Usman Garuba and Alperen Sengun.

The Rockets already have a frontcourt rotation and adding Markkanen would complicate their plans. Christian Wood is the Rockets' best player, Theis was just signed to a four-year deal, and Sengen and Garuba are part of the franchise’s future plans. In a vacuum, Markkanen might make sense, but the Rockets’ frontcourt is already crowded enough. 

Reason #1 Why the Houston Rockets should Pass on Lauri Markkanen: Money

Sometimes the most boring answer is the most pertinent. The cost of signing Lauri Markkanen is likely to be too high to work.  The Rockets are going to be up against the salary cap and any deal for Markkanen would either see them in the luxury tax conversation or force them to send the Bulls assets in a sign-and-trade. 

If a market never materializes, the Rockets could sign Markkanen to a small deal, a la Dennis Schroder, but that too seems unlikely. When players of Markkanen’s quality want to rebuild their value they go to places with either playoff aspirations or an obvious role. The Rockets present neither. 

If the Rockets were to sign Markkanen they’d likely need to outbid a team with a better situation. However, if the price is right there are more than a few reasons to bring Markkanen to Houston.    

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