2021 Free Agency

Lauri Markkanen dealt to Cleveland in 3-team trade

The 3-team deal sends Lauri Markkanen to Cleveland, Larry Nance Jr. to Portland and Derrick Jones Jr. to Chicago.

Lauri Markkanen is reportedly on the way to Cleveland after four seasons with the Bulls as part of a three-team deal.

Lauri Markkanen was in search of a new team. The Cavaliers needed to add another outside shooter.

They found each other.

The Cavaliers have agreed to acquire Markkanen, a restricted free agent forward from Chicago in a three-way trade that sends forward Larry Nance Jr. from Cleveland to Portland. The Bulls are getting swingman Derrick Jones Jr. from the Trail Blazers along with a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick.

Markkanen is coming to the Cavs in a sign-and-trade agreement, the team announced Saturday.

ESPN first reported the three-way swap.

The Bulls acquired Markkanen during the 2017 NBA Draft, when he was drafted No. 7 by the Timberwolves, as part of the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and Zach LaVine to Chicago. Markkanen often seemed on the verge of breaking out as a “stretch-4”, but was limited by injuries — maxing out at 68 games played in his rookie season — and peaked in his sophomore campaign, when the 7-footer averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in 52 games.

The 7-foot Markkanen averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 51 games for the Bulls last season, his fourth with the club. A 40% shooter on 3-pointers last season, he had been unable to work out staying with Chicago, and Cleveland jumped at the chance to get him.

Markkanen will join a young Cleveland nucleus that includes guards Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, forward Evan Mobley, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, forward Isaac Okoro and center Jarrett Allen.

The price for Markkanen was high. The Cavs had to part with the popular Nance, who grew up in the area and whose father, Larry Sr., was an All-Star forward and whose jersey was retired by Cleveland.

Nance joined the Cavs in the 2017-18 season, coming over in a trade from the Lakers. A skilled all-around player, the 28-year-old Nance will be a nice complementary piece for the Blazers. He’ll also get a chance to play with fellow northeast Ohioan and friend CJ McCollum.

Drafted by the Lakers in 2015, Nance ultimately found a home — as his father did — in Cleveland, developing into a strong “3-and-D” forward. The 6-foot-7 big is an advanced stats darling who has been steadily improving his game around the margins. Last season, Nance averaged 9.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 31.2 minutes last season, shooting a career-best 36.0% on a career-high 3.3 attempts from long range.

Jones Jr., a high-flyer who won the 2020 AT&T Slam Dunk in a hotly contested battle with Aaron Gordon, had signed with the Blazers prior to last season, struggling to work in his high-flying game; the 6-foot-7 wing spent the year shifting in and out of the lineup and sometimes rotation.

An undrafted free agent after one season at UNLV, Jones latched on with the Suns in September 2016 and developed his game while working extensively with the team’s G League affiliate. Waived by the Suns in December 2017, Jones was scooped up by the Heat on a two-way contract, and quickly found a role providing acrobatics on offense and active hands on D.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.