As the Lauri Markkanen-Bulls breakup saga continues, Chicago’s front office brass is still looking for a trade partner. The Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves had previously reported interest, but there was only speculation on the compensation of a possible sign-and-trade scenario. Reports out of Dallas now indicate the Bulls are interested in Maxi Kleber.
Kleber has played all four of his NBA seasons with the Mavericks. He averaged 7.1 points, 1.4 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game across 267 contests to begin his career. While these stats aren’t anything to rave about, Kleber is a solid defensive option. Kleber, typically a bench option, slid into a starting role during the Mavericks playoff series against the Clippers to guard Kawhi Leonard. Defensively, Kleber is +1.0 per 100 defensive possessions, according to the FiveThirtyEight RAPTOR projections.
On the offensive side of the ball, Markkanen averages 13.6 points per game, nearly double Kleber’s figure. Kleber provides better overall balance, however, and he is a viable option on the defensive end. Markkanen and Kleber have win shares of 3.0 and 2.9, respectively.
The contract situation is where things get interesting. Kleber is locked in at just under $9 million annually for the next two seasons while Markkanen is demanding more than his $9 million one-year qualifying offer. Right now, it seems as though a potential sign-and-trade agreement would be a Markkanen for Kleber one-for-one. If Markkanen gets a dollar figure closer to what he was demanding from the Bulls, Kleber and another piece or a draft pick could potentially come back to Chicago in a deal.
Kleber would be an adequate option coming off the bench for the Bulls. Adding him to the mix would certainly build upon Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversly’s plan of shoring up the defensive end. Bulls fans can only hope the Mavericks will pull the trigger on this deal, as several previous reports involving Markkanen have fizzled out so far this offseason.