One of the top restricted free agents in the NBA still unsigned is Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen.
Markkanen is coming off his worst season with the Bulls.
He averaged career lows with 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game in 2020-21. Despite his scoring totals declining, he did post career highs with a 48.0 shooting percentage and a 40.2 3-point percentage.
Markkanen is a good player and a quality shooter. But with the Bulls adding DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball on large contracts this offseason, plus the need to re-sign Zach LaVine before his contract expires after the 2021-22 season, what does the future hold for Markkanen in Chicago?
A change of scenery could be beneficial for both parties.
Which teams might be landing spots for Markkanen if he leaves the Bulls? Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported Tuesday that the Celtics are among the teams that have shown interest in the Finnish forward.
"Either way, each team that has inquired about Markkanen would have to now add him via sign-and-trade, as cap space has dwindled across the league," Fisher writes. "Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, and Minnesota have all shown interest in signing Markkanen to deals worth around $15 million in average annual value, sources said, but the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for helping facilitate the transaction."
Should the Celtics pursue Markkanen? The short answer is no.
The Celtics have a path to max salary cap space next summer, which would allow them to make a play for a superstar such as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal. Trading for Markkanen and paying him around $15 million per year would make it difficult to attain max cap space next summer.
If the Celtics want to add a quality player before next season, signing veteran point guard Dennis Schroeder to the mid-level exception would be a smarter addition than Markkanen.
The goal for the Celtics should be using their cap space on top-tier players next summer. Markkanen is a good player, but not a top-tier player of Beal's caliber.