Sports

Lauri Markkanen Discusses Trade To Jazz, EuroBasket Success

New Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen spoke with Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber exclusive) in an extended conversation.

The 25-year-old has had a busy summer. Except it was one of the focal points in the deal that saw the Jazz Shipping All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell for the Cavaliers, Markkanen also played for his native Finland in Berlin for this year’s EuroBasket, achieving the tournament’s second-highest average. The team eventually fell to the quarterfinals.

This is the second consecutive off-season move that Markkanen has undergone during his burgeoning professional career. In the summer of 2021, he joined Cleveland in a sign-and-trade deal, signing a $67.5 million four-year contract. During his lone season with the 44-38 Cavaliers, the seven-footer, traditionally a power forward, started his first NBA career as the team’s small forward. In 61 games, all starts, he averaged 14.8 PPG on .445/.358/.868 shooting splits, 5.7 RPG and 1.3 APG.

Walden’s interview is worth reading in full, but here are some highlights from the conversation:

On Markkanen’s response to the trade:

“It was kind of a shock. I didn’t hear anything before, I didn’t see my name in rumors… It was emotional. I understand the business side of it so I don’t have any hard feelings. I thanked them for the opportunity I had. But the first moments were very emotional for me because we really liked Cleveland and thought we had found a home there.”

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On playing for his home country in this summer’s EuroBasket competition:

“[Finland’s standing among its EuroBasket rivals is] still work in progress. But [rewind] like it, [11] years ago when they made EuroBasket for the first time in a while – it’s been on the rise since… They were part of the World Cup in [2015]. It’s been going up for a while. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I understand its history. … I try to take this even further.”

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On how close he came to attending the University of Utah as a college prospect in 2016:

“Utah was my first visit. I was visiting with my father and I remember joking to him, ‘Should I go to the other two places? Because I feel comfortable there.’ I was pretty sure I was going to Utah… But then we cleared our heads and made the other two visits. And my gut feeling [was strong] when I arrived in Arizona.”

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