By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After learning about his trade via social media, Lauri Markkanen shared a nice moment with Rudy Gobert during the 2022 EuroBasket.
“I saw Rudy in the hotel lobby in Berlin, and he asked me if I want to buy his house,” he revealed the amusing part of the conversation to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune in a great interview fully available exclusively for subscribers.
At the time, Markkanen and Gobert were representing respective countries in Berlin. Finland was knocked out by future champion Spain in the Quarterfinals. France went on to the gold-medal game but fell to La Roja and settled for the silver medals.
Prior to EuroBasket, Markkanen was part of the compensation delivered by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell. An earlier blockbuster trade moved the French big man to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I found out on Twitter that we got Donovan Mitchell. But it didn’t say any names at that point,” recalled Markkanen, “I wonder who we’re gonna give up. Oh, I wonder if I’m going to Utah.”
News settling in during preparation for EuroBasket, he accepted his fate. Producing multiple spectacular showings from Prague in the preliminary round to the two games in Berlin was the immediate response.
“It was emotional. I understand the business side of it, so I’ve got no hard feelings. I thanked them for the opportunity that I had. But the first moments were really emotional for me, because we really liked Cleveland, and thought we’d found a home there,” he described.
Markkanen, 25, was actually involved in a trade for a second offseason in a row. Last August, the Cavaliers pick him up in a sign-and-trade deal with the Chicago Bulls. He penned a four-year, $67.5M contract.
After posting 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game in his fifth NBA campaign, he exploded for 27.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.4 blocks per contest in EuroBasket.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he talked about Finland growing at the international level, “It’s been going up for a while. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I understand the history. I’m trying to take this thing even further.”
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL