NBA Rumor: Lauri Markkanen Extension?

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Previously in this feature, I predicted the two sides would reach agreement. I based this not only on Markkanen’s strong desire to get a deal done but also Artūras Karnišovas’ uncharacteristic public acknowledgement of the same. But once it got down to negotiating, it was clear it wasn’t going to happen. Even after proposal exchanges, the two sides were roughly $4 million apart for the starting salary figure in the first year of a multi-year deal, sources said. To put that in perspective: When Jimmy Butler rejected the Bulls’ rookie contract extension offer in 2014 to famously bet on himself, the two sides were only roughly $4 million apart over the life of the deal.

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Do you think the Bulls will get an extension done with Lauri Markkanen before the Dec. 21 deadline? — @FlyTheWTonight, via Twitter KC Johnson: I do. But I’m also no bueno when it comes to sports predictions. Here’s what I’m basing that guess on: Markkanen and his family love living in Chicago and playing for the Bulls. I’m not saying he’s going to take a massive hometown discount. But I do think long-term security in the place he wants to be may mean something more to him than chasing every last dollar. Couple that with Artūras Karnišovas’ surprising openness about wanting to seal the deal, and I think common ground is found.

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

Lauri Markkanen: I want to stay in Chicago

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.”
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April 11, 2021 | 9:03 pm EDT Update