The pool of teams that will have the salary-cap space to make a run at Markkanen is limited, but multiple executives and scouts anticipate the San Antonio Spurs will make a strong offer this summer. Without LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio has a need for a stretch big with Markkanen’s size and skill set.
Joe Cowley: Lauri Markkanen can still be a sign-and-trade deal this summer, and has two months to make a statement.
KC Johnson: With 2 hours until deadline, asking price for Lonzo Ball remains more than just Lauri Markkanen. Bulls' draft capital depleted from Vucevic trade and expiring Porter salary makes expanding deal difficult. Fluid situation.
KC Johnson: Word around the league is that the Bulls aren't necessarily done. Not only are they still engaged on Lonzo Ball, they're fielding calls on Lauri Markkanen.
Keith Smith: Per a source: The Chicago Bulls are still looking at Lauri Markkanen trades. Chicago doesn't see him and Nikola Vucevic as a long-term fit next to each other in the frontcourt.
KC Johnson: As of this AM, acquiring Lonzo Ball would take more than just an offer of Lauri Markkanen. Don’t know if sweetener would be first-round pick, as word around league was earlier this week, or expanding deal to take larger contract off Pels’ hands for expiring contract.
Markkanen is different. There is interest in him, and the Bulls have had talks with the New Orleans Pelicans centered on Ball. How rich of an offer Karnišovas is willing to make for a player who, like Markkanen, can be signed to an offer sheet in restricted free agency will be revealed by Thursday’s deadline. Markkanen isn’t sweating it. “I'm in a good place that I can focus on the task at hand. I can play games and it's not gonna bother me,” he said of the deadline. “I can't control that.”
Teams have expressed interest in Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, and Chicago is listening to potential suitors, sources said. Markkanen has had a bounce-back season for the Bulls, averaging 17.7 points and six rebounds per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point land. Markkanen will be a sought-after restricted free agent this offseason. — Shams Charania
K.C. Johnson: Here's other thing regarding Markkanen in advance of Thursday: The Bulls know what he's seeking in RFA because they went through the extension process and were roughly $4M apart annually. Will he get what what he's seeking? If Bulls think so, smart to listen to trade offers.
The Knicks and Bulls have also expressed interest in New Orleans' starting point guard, sources said, although the Pelicans, as we previously reported, do not appear as motivated to move Ball as they once did. There were early discussions centered around swapping Lauri Markkanen for Ball, sources said, yet those talks have not yet seemed close to substantial.
Joe Cowley: Lauri Markkanen is staying out of the prediction business on if he'll be a Bulls after deadline, and said he would feel comfortable talking to AK about his standing.
What's more unclear is the status of Markkanen, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Bulls might not want to match what Markkanen could get on the open market this summer, especially in a free-agent market that has lost much of its star power. However, any team trading for the 7-footer would face the same dilemma. "I think they'd trade Markkanen if they get a good offer, but I don't think they're likely to trade him," said an East executive. "I don't think they do anything unless they get something they love."
According to coach Billy Donovan, his conversations with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas have been about the current roster and the last player he spoke with about roster security was forward Lauri Markkanen. ‘‘The only conversation I had with anybody about that was Lauri when that extension [talk] kind of came and went [in December],’’ Donovan said Monday. ‘‘I was not so much talking to him about what had happened, but I just wanted to make sure he was in a good place to go out and play because we were just kind of right at the end of the preseason. I have not had any players come to me and talk to me about that.’’
The Chicago Bulls have been linked with potentially trading up from No. 4 for LaMelo Ball in which they can package that pick and either Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter in a deal. "I've heard their fans of LaMelo," said Jonathan Givony on The Lowe Post. "They do have some really good pieces in place. I'm hearing that they like Lauri Markkanen a lot more right now than Wendell Carter. That he's more of an untouchable.
Forget the stats last season for the 7-footer. Everyone would like to. The real concern was that Markkanen ended the season privately making it known that he didn’t like the direction of the organization and wanted to be elsewhere if there wasn’t a change.
An NBA scout told the Chicago Sun-Times that there were some teams actively zeroing in on several Bulls, including Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Is it your normal due diligence or a lot more smoke than usual? In this case, it’s likely both. First, sources have indicated the organization hasn’t even crossed the trade bridge. Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t even rounded up the entire roster at the Advocate Center for a full workout.
Markkanen is contract eligible this offseason, but considering he had a down year to go with a lowered salary cap due to COVID-19, it would be unlikely him and the Bulls come to an agreement. He still has one year left on his rookie deal before becoming a restricted free agent, however Markkanen did make it clear about his love for Chicago. “I want to stay in Chicago and sign an extension (with the Bulls), no question. I love this city.”
What do you think is the future for Lauri Markkanen and the Bulls? – Alfonso M., via Twitter. We’re going to find out how he's valued by the current regime soon enough. Once the NBA calendar is established, he’s eligible for an extension of his rookie contract during the offseason. Given that the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler in part for him, you can bet his representation will be asking for a lot. Given that he regressed through an injury-riddled and usage-challenged season last year, you can bet the new regime will try to sign him to a reasonable contract. Karnisovas and Eversley are well respected throughout the agency community. This includes a strong relationship with Markkanen's agent. That should make for cordial negotiations. Whether they’re fruitful or not remains to be seen. If no extension is reached, the Bulls would still own his rights as a restricted free agent if they extend him a qualifying offer (the value of which is impossible to project until we know the exact ramifications the league’s stoppage will have on the CBA).
It would make sense if Karnisovas wanted to evaluate Markkanen before making any rash decisions. But the deadline to agree with Markkanen on a rookie scale extension looms, and Karnisovas doesn’t exactly have a stockpile of assets with which to improve the roster. Markkanen remains the biggest trade chip. Unlike Paxson and Forman, who traded Butler for Markkanen, Karnisovas has no need to save face. He could try to rebuild Markkanen. But he has no reason to be hindered by optics. If Karnisovas believes Markannen just isn’t it, this offseason could really get interesting.
Depending on who sits in those new GM/VP seats, Markkanen could be one such piece to be packaged, especially if they deem his unhappiness beyond repair. That doesn’t seem to be the case, but that will still have to be explored.
John Paxson responded to speculation that Lauri Markkanen is not happy in Chicago. The truth is, everyone on the team is probably disgruntled with the Bulls' 19-33 record heading into Thursday. "Lauri, we believe in at a high level and we view him as a cornerstone player," Paxson said. "It's our responsibility to help him become the type of player we believe he can be. We've had direct communication with him, with his agent ... we've never been told Lauri doesn't want to be here."
KC Johnson: John Paxson said he talked to Lauri Markkanen’s agent today and has been given no indication Markkanen wants out. Did acknowledge, as Markkanen has addressed publicly, the need to improve his role in offense.
I’ve heard no trade rumors surrounding Markkanen. I do think, whether he’s being misused or not, this season raises legitimate questions on whether his ceiling is as high as the Bulls projected. That said, I completely agree he’s not this ineffective and he’d be better served if he’s on the move more. I know coaches have talked to him about cutting forcefully in halfcourt sets and running the wings hard in transition. But, yes, the fact this offense largely eschews midrange looks or postups has affected Markkanen.
Lauri Markkanen looks like a guy that needs a change of scenery, but the Bulls would be too paranoid to give up on a talent like that. That leaves Young and Kris Dunn, and that’s about it. Sources have indicated that the Los Angeles Clippers have interest in both, but they could go after Young in a trade, and wait for Dunn, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Either way, not a lot of chips for the Bulls to push into the middle.
May 8, 2021 | 9:34 pm EDT Update
The Sixers won their eighth straight game with a 118-104 victory over the Pistons on Saturday night, moving ever so closer to locking down the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid led the way with 29 points, and strong efforts from Dwight Howard and Tyrese Maxey were among the standouts from the supporting cast.
Justin Grasso: Doc Rivers on the playoff rotation: “I think we’re very comfortable with who were are going to play. I think we’ve been comfortable.” Says they “won’t blink” at playing 11 guys if they need to
May 8, 2021 | 8:54 pm EDT Update
Fred Katz: There it is. Russell Westbrook has officially tied Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double record of 181 for a career, a record that has stood for 47 years. Westbrook now has 21 triple-doubles in his last 25 games and will go for the record Monday against the Hawks.
Russell Westbrook is making history every other day at this point and Saturday night was no exception. The Wizards’ point guard earned his 7,988th assist against the Pacers, passing former Wizards point guard Rod Strickland for 12th all-time on the NBA’s career assists list.