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Bulls eyeing Lauri Markkanen-Maxi Kleber sign-and-trade with Mavs

Bulls, Mavericks, Lauri Markkanen, Maxi Kleber

Chicago Bulls forward-center Lauri Markkanen remains unsigned in the free-agent market. Markkanen wants to get away from Chicago to have a fresh start. He is a restricted free agent and the Bulls would be happy to grant his wish in a sign-and-trade deal. The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly interested in a sign-and-trade deal that would send Markkanen to the Mavs and German Maxi Kleber to the Bulls, per Tim Cato of the Athletic.

After the Bulls traded for Nikola Vucevic at last season’s trade deadline, it was clear Markkanen has no future in Chicago. Markkanen started in only 26 games last season after starting 50 the year before.

The Bulls’ sweet-shooting big man has struggled to remain healthy. He has not reached the 60-game plateau in his last three seasons with Chicago. In his four years with Chicago, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 44% from the field and 36.6% from 3-point territory.

For the Mavs, Markkanen would be an offensive upgrade over Kleber. The Finnish pro has more tools to use for his offensive game than the German role player. Numbers-wise it is evident that Lauri is more gifted offensively. Kleber averaged just 7.1 points per game last season compared to Markkanen’s 15.

However, Kleber is a much better defender than Markkanen. It would be interesting to see how the Mavs will fit Markkanen alongside fellow shooting big man Kristaps Porzingis.

The Bulls, if they get Kleber, would receive a player who has been in the playoffs in his last two seasons with the Mavs. That experience would be big for Chicago, which will surely try to get back to the playoffs as soon as possible after going all-in for Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.

The Bulls have not made the playoffs since 2017 and have won a total of two playoff series since 2011.