Lauri Markkanen was the subject of trade rumors all offseason, and he is one player who is happy they came true. He says he’s also happy to be donning the Wine and Gold of the Cavaliers.
“I don’t think I’ve hit close to my ceiling yet,” Markkanen said, via KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “… The last couple years have been mentally pretty tough. I’ve grown as a person because of that, so I wouldn’t change it.
“I’ve learned a lot. But I just felt like I need to get back to the old me and how I know I can play the game. I think this is a good opportunity for me to do that. I’m happy. I’m really excited and looking forward. We kind of felt like I needed a fresh start.”
Markkanen, 24, is 6-foot-11. He was never really a fit under Billy Donovan, in his first year as coach of the Bulls last season. Markkanen was a restricted free agent and wanted out. He welcomed the trade to Cleveland.
Still, he managed to averaged around 14 points and shoot a career-best 48 percent from the field. His best year came in 2018-19, when he averaged 18.7 points and pulled down 9.0 rebounds.
“I think obviously I’m most disappointed we didn’t make the postseason one time when I was there,” he said of his time with the Bulls. “That’s what we’re paid to do. It didn’t work out. I think I had good moments as a player, and I had some inconsistencies. But I’m looking ahead.”
He will now get to run next to the likes of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro and rookie Evan Mobley, and play for Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Those are all prospects that appear to have Markkanen feeling positive.
“I think I fit in well — young core, exciting point guards. I’m looking forward to playing with those big guys in the frontcourt. They’re all young, talented guys. I think we can grow together,” he said. “And I can’t wait to learn from a player like Kevin Love. Just learn aspects of the game from him and the mentality of the game, how he approaches it. I’m looking forward to that as well.”