The Bulls Reportedly Consider Lauri Markkanen More “Untouchable” Than Wendell Carter Jr. in Trade Talks

Draft night 2020 is almost upon us, and it’ll (hopefully) provide a clearer idea of how the Chicago Bulls envision their immediate future – especially if the new front office moves up the draft board to land the No. 1 pick.

LaMelo Ball is perceived by many to be the No. 1-overall pick in this draft class, and league executives reportedly believe Chicago is one of the teams interested in taking the Timberwolves pick off their hands.

 

But any discussion of trading up for Ball necessarily requires a chat about the cost of the No. 1 pick. And that’s where will go tonight.

In addition to their own top pick, the Bulls would surely have to give up at least one of their young talents to secure the right to draft Ball. And while no one on the roster should be off the table, that doesn’t mean anyone should be considered expendable either. So who are the most likely players to move in this sort of draft night trade? By my eye, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. (Coby White has only one season under his belt and is not going to be valued high enough from other teams, and Zach LaVine is probably valued too high by the Bulls for a move from No. 4 to No. 1 in this kind of draft).

For what it’s worth, I still think giving up Markkanen or Carter Jr. would be too steep of a price to pay to move up in this draft. Both have the potential to become high-end starters in this league. And frankly, I just don’t think any top-3 prospect *in 2020* is worth giving that up.

With that said, Givony specifically identified those two on ESPN, adding that Carter Jr., in particular, would be the likelier of the two frontcourt pieces:

“I’ve heard that they’re fans of LaMelo,” Givony said on The Lowe Post podcast. They do have some really good pieces in place. I’m hearing that they like Lauri Markkanen a lot more than Wendell Carter – that he’s more of an untouchable.”

Huh. Interesting. Again, let’s be clear, no one on this roster is truly “untouchable,” but there is always a trading block hierarchy within a front office, and it appears Markkanen is lower on the availability list than Carter Jr. (Michael: That surprises the crap out of me, but, hey, I’m not Arturas Karnisovas).

Perhaps we’re overthinking it, though. Arturas Karnisovas could simply understand that Markkanen’s trade value currently sits at an all-time low. He had a career-worst season across the board in 2019-20, which means it should only be up from here for the 22-year-old. That does seem to track with basic asset management, but it comes with a huge problem: Carter Jr.’s value is pretty darn low right now, too. He had a better season than Markkanen, but he failed to flash any substantial offensive upside (largely due to coaching, in my opinion), and he failed to stay on the court for the second-straight season.

I’m not sure any one front court piece should be valued over the other – at least, not right now. Markkanen may have the higher ceiling, but Carter Jr. could be the better all-around player. If I were in the front office, I’d take the wait-and-see approach with both players (again, that goes double when the use is for moving up in this draft). Neither has enjoyed a day within a healthy organization until now, so I find it more worthwhile to see what these guys can do with a competent coach/player development staff than to get rid of one (in this case, Carter Jr.) for a player at the top of this particular draft class.

The broader point, though, is that Carter Jr. could be the player to keep an eye on over this front office’s first full season at the helm of this team. I don’t necessarily think we will see Karnisovas actively shopping the big men, but he could be most comfortable having conversations that revolve around him. Is that the right choice?

(Photo by Getty Images)

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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