Insider reveals Thunder trade target could be available for 'great, great deal'

Though NBA Free Agency is officially underway, the OKC Thunder may want to look to the trade market for their next splashy offseason acquisition.
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

With roughly $35 million in spending power to work with, the OKC Thunder are viewed as a potential top player for some of this summer's top-billed free-agent talents.

From All-Stars to studly role players, this 2024 free agency class is chock full of talents who are believed to have the skills necessary to help push Oklahoma City up from its up-and-coming status to being considered a legitimate championship favorite.

However, some such as Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes believe Sam Presti's sights should focus heavily on the trade market instead, as he suggests a guy like Utah Jazz All-Star Lauri Markkanen should be the club's "top target" this summer.

Considering his stellar size (7-feet, 240 pounds), on-court versatility, and star pedigree, many see the 27-year-old as an ideal fit within Mark Daigneault's starting rotation alongside Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams in the frontcourt.

Though for the most part, the concept of Markkanen becoming available on the block has been mere speculation, recently ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a noteworthy tidbit that suggests he could be more gettable than many may have previously thought.

Popular Thunder target Lauri Markkanen available for 'great, great deal'?

During a recent appearance on Sports Center, the NBA Insider discussed Markkanen's current standing with the Jazz heading into the summer and noted that, while it is believed the franchise is interested in holding onto him for the long haul, he could be a player that might be available in a trade for the right price.

"I think in a perfect world Utah wants to keep Lauri Markkanen, they could sign him to an extension later this summer, but teams are being aggressive in this market place. He's had a renaissance in his career with Will Hardy in Utah. I think it would take a great, great deal to pry him out of there but Utah's got to listen and there's no shortage of teams who have an interest in seeing what it might take to get Markkanen out of Utah."

Adrian Wojnarowski

In many ways, a player like Markkanen fits the mold of an ideal frontcourt running mate to slot in next to starting pivot, Chet Holmgren.

On top of the fact that he's a more ideal build to play power forward compared to the 6-foot-5 Jalen Williams, the seventh-year pro is a proven scoring and rebounding threat who can help space the floor and fight more aggressively for second-chance opportunities.

A career "renaissance" is a perfect way to describe Markkanen's time spent with the Jazz over these last two seasons, as he's gone on to establish his star status in the association while posting sensational averages of 24.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game all while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent from distance.

Though his defensive efforts still leave a bit to be desired, his length and bulk still provide him with the capability of holding his own on this end of the floor, while surrounding him with stellar defenders such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, Lu Dort, and Jalen Williams in the starting lineup alone would help mask his limitations dramatically.

Being they hold a treasure trove of draft capital over the next several seasons and roster a bevy of highly intriguing young prospects (Aaron Wiggins, Isaiah Joe, Ousmane Dieng, Nikola Topic, etc.), finding a way to package together an offer that fits the "great, great deal" description that Wojnarowski stated would be necessary to steal him away from Utah, the Thunder are in a prime position to lead the charge in potential offseason trade negotiations.

The only thing left to determine: Is Oklahoma City of the belief that Markkanen is the missing piece in their championship aspirations?