NBA rumors: Hornets emerge with strong interest in Lauri Markkanen

More on Lauri Markkanen Free Agency

The San Antonio Spurs had interest in signing Lauri Markkanen in free agency, but his asking price exceeded what they were willing to pay, according to Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective. San Antonio, however, signed Zach Collins to a three-year, $22 million deal despite his multiple ankle surgeries. The number San Antonio gave Collins offers some insight into what Markkanen is seeking well beyond that.
Ben Johnson: @DWolfsonKSTP Is Markkanen still being targeted by the Wolves via sign & trade? Any talk of Thad Young via trade? Darren Wolfson: They've been in contact on Lauri M. #Timberwolves
Minnesota is surely one possibility for Markkanen, and for any other ambulatory power forward. The T’Wolves have little room below the luxury tax line and will be looking at trades and sign-and-trades with some of their less desirable contracts and a future pick.
Shams Charania: Sources: The Bulls have extended the qualifying offer to Lauri Markkanen, making him a restricted free agent. Markkanen is expected to have several suitors on the market.
Who is a name the Wolves could be interested in that might surprise some people? — @Ordinary_Jeff Jon Krawczynski: Hmmmm … How about Lauri Markkanen?
The Bulls have until Aug. 1 to extend a one-year qualifying offer to Markkanen and Javonte Green. Markkanen averaged a minimum of 34.25 starts over the past two seasons and has reached starter criteria, earning him a $9.0 million offer. Green was acquired at the trade deadline and appeared in only six games, averaging 5.5 minutes. His one-year contract is for $1.9 million. The qualifying offer will tag each player with the restricted free-agent status, allowing the Bulls to match an offer sheet.
Gozlan: They’ve got $50 million in cap space, so they can bring back DeRozan. Let’s say they bring him back at $25 million. Then you’ve got another $25 million to spend. I don’t know if you want to tie that up in Rudy Gay and Patty Mills. They definitely need some frontcourt help and more upside. They’ve been linked to Lauri Markkanen. That would be the type of move I’d try to pursue if I were them. Maybe even John Collins.
So where might Markkanen end up? The one place he privately wants to land is with the Mavericks, joining guard Luka Doncic and big man Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks will have serious cap room this offseason and were in the middle of the pack in three-point shooting, but Markkanen and Porzingis might be too similar in terms of their skills for that to happen.
In a phone interview with NBC Sports Chicago following an up-and-down season that featured him moving from focal point to reserve, the mild-mannered forward made clear his approach to his restricted free agency this offseason. “My thing is I think I’ve always been a team-first guy. And I think now it’s time to look at the business side of the game,” Markkanen said. “I feel like I’m only 23 years old and I have a lot of basketball ahead of me. It’s a good opportunity to look what’s out there for me. I can be a focal point. I think I have a lot more to offer.”
If a big-money offer comes his way, are the Bulls going to commit millions to a player that Donovan viewed a poor enough pairing alongside a centerpiece like Vučević that he brought him off the bench? Markkanen said such details didn’t come up in his exit meeting. “We talked about stuff I can do better and some stuff I did well this year. Obviously, we talked about what to work on. But we didn’t talk about the business side that much,” Markkanen said. “Wherever it is going to be, I’m committed to the team. You know that about me. I’m excited to see what’s out there for me.”
Lauri Markkanen: “I don’t have any regrets turning (the extension) down. I think I did the right decision. I have a lot of basketball ahead of me. I can do a lot of different stuff on the court. I’m confident in my abilities.”
The Bulls will have the final say in Markkanen’s future this offseason. Whether they figure out a sign-and-trade or decide to match any offer he gets as a restricted free agent, it will be in their hands. Markkanen said last week his intention will be to sign with a team that will give him a chance to start again. It doesn’t sound as though that opportunity will be there with the Bulls.
Since the trade deadline, Markkanen has gone from starting at power forward and getting some minutes at center to coming off the bench at small forward, a position he hasn’t fully embraced and really doesn’t have the defensive ability to play. So while the Bulls haven’t completely shoved Markkanen out the door, he has endured a series of demotions because of other players they consider to be more in their plans.
Not only will New York (10-13) be very cap friendly after this season, but Thibodeau has always been a big fan of Markkanen’s game. Enough so that he admitted shortly after the ’17 draft that if that trade for Butler wouldn’t have gone through, Minnesota – where Thibodeau was the coach/vice president of basketball operations at the time – was going to draft Markkanen anyway.
Markkanen is averaging a career-high 20.5 points, riding into Wednesday’s rematch against New York carrying consecutive 30-point nights. In his past eight appearances since rejoining the lineup after missing seven straight games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Markkanen has averaged 22.1 points and 6.1 rebounds with a 52.4/39.1/90.9 shooting split. In many ways, the fourth-year Finnish forward is playing the best ball of his career. “He’s going out there proving what he’s worth,” Bulls guard Zach LaVine said.
Michael Scotto: Source: The Chicago Bulls and Lauri Markkanen won't agree to an extension. He's eligible for a $9 million qualifying offer. He'll be one of the top restricted free agents on the market. More on his future in my story over the weekend on @HoopsHype. hoopshype.com/lists/nba-exte…
This is a tough one to predict. I wouldn’t say Markkanen’s value is at an all-time low because he’s still valued around the league, albeit with reservations. But, yes, coming off a season where his production dropped, his injury history continued and his usage mystified, this will be a tough negotiation. If you’re the Bulls, you obviously try to negotiate from a hard-line stance to keep the books as clean as possible without alienating his camp. Luckily, Karnisovas and Markkanen’s agent have a strong relationship, but that doesn’t guarantee anything except cordiality during negotiations. And Markkanen remains under the Bulls’ rights as a restricted free agent in 2021 if no extension is reached, albeit one with roughly a $20 million cap hold.
I think given that the new regime likely is viewing 2020-21 as a see-what-we’ve-got season, it’s more likely than not that no extension is reached. Then, you negotiate again in 2021 depending on how Markkanen fared. This strategy cost the Bulls a lot of money in the Jimmy Butler scenario. But it’s a good problem to have if a player with current question marks blossoms into a star — like Butler did and like Karnisovas hopes Markkanen can. With a new leader in the front office, what changes do
The Chicago Bulls have exercised the third-year option on Lauri Markkanen, and fourth-year options on guards Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine. By exercising their options, all players will be under contract with the Bulls for the 2019-20 season. Markkanen came to the Bulls in a Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017, in which his rights were acquired, along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to the 16th selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. Markkanen was selected to the All-Rookie First Team last season after playing in 68 games (68 starts) and averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 29.7 minutes per game.
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September 18, 2021 | 9:28 pm EDT Update
September 18, 2021 | 5:41 pm EDT Update
You’re here for at least the next five years now that you’ve signed an extension. Do you allow yourself to think – or dream – about what might come over that time span since you’ve talked openly about wanting to win a title in New York? Have you allowed yourself to think about how things might progress? Julius Randle: Obviously, it’s a process. Everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, that is the expectation (winning a title in New York). That’s what I want to happen within that time frame. There’s a lot of things, factors that go into that. So obviously you’ve got to weigh that stuff in.
Julius Randle: But as far as myself, I know Thibs (Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau) is thinking (it as well), it’s just win at all costs. For me personally, that’s just how I prepare myself. I prepare myself to compete at the highest level of our game. Like I said, there’s a lot of factors (that go into winning an NBA title). But I trust Leon (Knicks president Leon Rose), I trust Thibs, Wes (Knicks vice president William Wesley), our coaches, Scott (Knicks GM Scott Perry) – all these guys, I trust. That was part of my process in thinking of signing the extension and that’s my goal, that’s our goal as a team and the guys that are around us. We want to be able to say that we won a championship here in New York. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that.
Did you guys see the video clip of Trae Young at the Garden with WWE? Do you care about that stuff? Julius Randle: Yeah I see it. But honestly, I don’t care. Obviously, that’s (for) entertainment purposes and all that (stuff), so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it – they didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.
September 18, 2021 | 12:10 pm EDT Update

Rockets re-sign Dante Exum, waive Tyler Bey

The Rockets have officially re-signed guard Dante Exum and waived Tyler Bey to create a roster space for him, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw was the first to report the Bey transaction (Twitter link). With John Wall not expected to play for the team this season as it seeks to trade him, the Rockets were in the market for another point guard. The Rockets’ interest in Exum surfaced on Tuesday.
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Timberwolves sign Leandro Bolmaro

When the Timberwolves traded up to get Leandro Bolmaro last November in the 2020 NBA Draft (yes, it was less than a year ago… it still feels weird), the question was would it be a year or two before Bolmaro came over from Barcelona to play in the NBA. The answer is one. Minnesota reached a deal and Bolmaro will be with the Timberwolves in training camp, the team announced Saturday. This is not a surprise; he was expected to come over this season. He will be playing on a rookie scale contract.