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.
June 20, 2021 | 12:22 pm EDT Update
Justin Kubatko: Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in each of the last five games of the 2021 ECS. Antetokounmpo is the first player to record at least five such games in a row in a single playoff series since Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/NeBtfLklzL
Chase Hughes: Giannis Antetokounmpo is heading to his 2nd conference finals already at 26 years old. MJ didn’t do that until he was 27. Jordan was 28 when he won his 1st title, so was Shaq. LeBron and Steph were 27. Despite the narrative, Giannis is at worst on schedule for an all-time great.
June 20, 2021 | 11:22 am EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: As expected, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie plans to decline the $12.3M player option on his 2021-2022 contract and become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell ESPN. He has a Monday deadline. Dinwiddie missed most of the season with an ACL injury.
Justin Kubatko: Giannis Antetokounmpo last night: ✅ 40 PTS ✅ 13 REB ✅ 5 AST Antetokounmpo is just the third player in NBA postseason history to record at least 40p/10r/5a in a Game 7, joining Jerry West (1969) and Tim Duncan (2006). He’s the first player to do so on a winning team. pic.twitter.com/a6NcLlxQDi
June 20, 2021 | 10:02 am EDT Update
According to NBA insider Marc J. Spears, the 31-year-old point guard will most likely be moved by the Thunder. He thinks that the Los Angeles Lakers should try to get him. Spears also revealed that Kyle Kuzma appears to be leaving the 2020 NBA champions. “Man, I can’t see Kemba playing there. If I’m the Lakers, man, why not try to go after Kemba. To me it makes a lot of sense. Kuzma already looks like he’s on his way out,” Spears said on ESPN’s The Jump.