It seems both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz are starting off 2022 strong.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz are starting off the 2022-2022 season pretty strong. The Jazz won their home opener 123-102 over the Denver Nuggets, and they were led in scoring by former Cavaliers Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen. The Cavs fell in their season opener on the road to the Toronto Raptors by three, 108-105, but the Cavs looked good in defeat and were in a position to win despite losing Darius Garland due to an eye injury.
Garland is day-to-day following the injury.
The Cavs were led, however, by Donovan Mitchell. The same player that the Jazz gave up for Markkanen, Sexton, and Ochai Agbaji, as well as a few draft picks. The Cavs got 31 points, nine assists, and very good efficiency from Mitchell, as he mostly played point for the Cavs.
The two teams both looked very good, and it was great to see Markkanen and Sexton put in the work. It looks like Sexton is still on a minutes restriction, as six players had more time clocked in than Sexton, who played just 21 minutes. Markkanen is starting for the Jazz going forward, playing alongside two other power forwards for a very weird starting lineup that included Kelly Olynyk and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Sexton is expected to start for the Jazz going forward but Markkanen is a name that they’re expecting to move. The goal for the Jazz is to land the first pick to draft top prospect Victor Wembanyama, and a guy like Markkanen may make the Jazz too good.
What is Lauri Markkanen’s future if not with the Utah Jazz?
If the rumors about them wanting to trade Markkanen before the trade deadline, man, I hope the Cleveland Cavaliers get back in that conversation. Markkanen is not a player easily replaced and his defense was very strong last season despite not being known for it in Chicago. He fit in well, and his ability to score at all three positions on the court made him valuable.
The only problem is, the collective bargaining agreement makes it impossible for the Cavaliers to re-acquire Markkanen in a trade at all. So even if the Jazz did him like Luke Ridnour back in 2015, where traded four times to four different teams, the Cavaliers could not reacquire Markkanen regardless of what team he ends up on.
Once the season is over, however, the Cavaliers can re-acquire Markkane, but the money won’t be as easy to make work. The obvious piece to trade for Markkanen is Caris LeVert, as their contracts are similar but LeVert is in his final season so it’s unlikely he gets a new deal and then gets traded.
Hopefully, Markkanen, if he is traded, is dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, as he’d be a great complimentary piece to Luka Donic.
For Sexton, I like his fit in Utah and think that regardless of who they get in the draft, Sexton could be a great building block for the franchise.