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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January 16, 2021 | 5:54 am EST Update

Andre Drummond addresses trade rumors

Instead of sulking with his successor standing on the sidelines in street clothes, Drummond gave everyone — Cleveland’s front office, Bickerstaff, the rest of the NBA — something to think about, even if he didn’t enter the night specifically looking to prove a point. “I play the same way each and every night,” Drummond said. “The trade, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. If I do get traded, I don’t control that either. I’m just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That’s all I can focus on right now.”
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Bickerstaff also hears the trade chatter. He’s talked with Drummond about it. “The optics are obvious,” Bickerstaff admitted. “But Dre and I have developed a great relationship up to this point. It’s a relationship that’s built on trust and honesty.” Drummond was asked about his reaction to the deal. He used the term “happy,” calling Allen and Prince “very, very good players.” And he backed up those words.
“The reason I’m having so much fun is I’m in a new environment, I’m in a new city and I love the guys that are here,” Drummond said. “It’s hard not to play hard here, having 12 guys that want to give it their all each and every night. It makes it fun to be out there.” Before the front office takes the next (logical) step toward unclogging the frontcourt by moving either Drummond or cheaper veteran JaVale McGee, who is also on an expiring contract and will garner interest, it’s worth considering how that would affect the team’s chances of staying competitive.
Justin Kubatko: The @Cleveland Cavaliers Andre Drummond has recorded his 43rd career game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, breaking a tie with Hakeem Olajuwon for the third-most such games since the ABA-NBA merger: 109 – Moses Malone. 51 – Dwight Howard. 43 – Drummond. 42 – Olajuwon. 41 – Charles Barkley.

Luka Doncic upset after Mavs fail to call timeout in loss vs. Bucks

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic animatedly expressed his dismay that coach Rick Carlisle didn’t use the team’s final timeout during a critical possession in the final minute of a 112-109 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The possession, which occurred with the Mavs trailing by two points, ended with Kristaps Porzingis badly missing a contested 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining. After the Mavs took a foul seconds later, Doncic angrily gestured toward the Dallas bench, repeatedly forming a T with his hands to indicate that a timeout should have been called.
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“It’s Coach’s decision, but if we would have made the shot, everything would be good,” said Doncic, who had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists in the loss, accounting for 61 of the Mavs’ 81 points when he was on the floor. “… But I don’t know. It’s Coach’s decision to call a timeout or no, so I think it’s good.” Doncic said he had not discussed the situation with Carlisle yet and declined to say if he intended to have that conversation with his coach. “If we talk, we’re going to talk,” Doncic said. “It’s not going to be in the media. It’s between us.”