NBA rumors: Lauri Markkanen's days in Chicago numbered?

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.

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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.
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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Spoelstra has accepted an invitation to join the USA Basketball coaching staff for its Olympic preparations in Las Vegas next month. The Miami Heat coach, who went head-to-head against Popovich and San Antonio in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals, will be involved coaching the U.S. select team — a group of players that will be brought in to practice and scrimmage against the Olympic roster.
“I really just want to be a part of the program,” Spoelstra said. “I’m always pushing myself to get better in the offseasons; I go visit people and all that stuff. This is going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, the dinners, the team meetings … for where I am right now in my career, I think this is the perfect thing for a summer of development.”
Storyline: Olympic Games