The Chicago Bulls will now be without one of their most important players, Lauri Markkanen, for up to a month.
The team announced Monday that Markkanen was diagnosed with a shoulder sprain and will miss between 2-4 weeks. Without Markkanen, the Bulls will have to look elsewhere for some scoring and rebounding help.
To this point, Markkanen is second on the Bulls in scoring at 19.1 points per game. He’s also averaging 6.1 rebounds and shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. One of the biggest conversations around Markkanen, this year, has been whether or not the Bulls should pay up for his future.
If Chicago doesn’t plan on paying Markkanen, the other option at this point is to trade him to a contender. Markkanen could very well be a missing piece for several contending teams looking to make a championship run.
But, at this stage, it’s going to be tough to trade him.
That’s not the end of the world, though, if the Bulls are thinking about selling at the trade deadline. They have another forward, arguably playing even better all-around basketball than Markkanen, who they could choose to trade.
More from Da Windy City
- Chicago Cubs: 3 free agents who could still give the team a boost
- Chicago Bears Mock Draft: Carson Wentz trade changes things
- Super Bowl LV: Point of attack shows a lot for Chicago Bears
- Super Bowl LV: Chicago Bears should learn from Tampa Bay
- Chicago Bears: These Carson Wentz trades make the most sense
With Markkanen out of the lineup for a while now, it will be Thaddeus Young who steps in and plays quite a bit more. Fortunately for the Bulls, he’s been playing extremely well.
A contending team may even be better off trading for Young over Markkanen, especially considering the latter has played much better on defense and can offer some facilitating. This season, Young is averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 25.5 minutes per game.
He’s been the teams’ second-best overall player this season, all things considered. Sure, he hasn’t scored as much as Markkanen. But, he’s been a better two-way player, and it’s not close.
This is a veteran in his 15th season who is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Being able to play and guard multiple positions will help a contending team in a big way. Now that Markkanen is out, Young is going to be showcased for a trade even further.
At 9-14, the Bulls shouldn’t necessarily give up on the season. However, making a deal to try and make the playoffs simply isn’t in the cards. Looking ahead to their future is the better option. Finding a trade partner for Young could net the Bulls a first-round pick, and then going into the coming offseason, they’ll have some extra cash to go along with that additional draft capital.
Young has been such a standout this season. Fans have enjoyed watching what he brings to this Bulls team. He’s completely bought into Billy Donovan and the system in place, unlike last year when he (and just about everybody else) clashed with Jim Boylen.
Markkanen’s injury is a bummer, but seeing Young play even more in hopes that it sweetens a trade is the silver lining, here.