NBA Rumor: Lauri Markkanen Free Agency

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“The last couple years have been mentally pretty tough,” Markkanen said. “I’ve grown as a person because of that so I wouldn’t change it. I’ve learned a lot. But I just felt like I need to get back to the old me and how I know I can play the game. I think this is a good opportunity for me to do that. I’m happy. I’m really excited and looking forward. We kind of felt like I needed a fresh start. And I appreciate all the people who were involved to help facilitate it and make it happen.”

Lauri Markkanen officially acquired by Cleveland in sign-and-trade deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward Lauri Markkanen (LAU-ree MARK-a-nin) in a sign and trade agreement from Chicago, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. In a three-team deal, Cleveland traded forward Larry Nance Jr. to Portland and a protected 2023 second round pick (via Denver) to Chicago. The Bulls also received forward Derrick Jones Jr. from Portland and the Trail Blazers’ lottery protected 2022 first round pick as part of the trade.

“We are extremely fortunate as an organization to be in a position to acquire another young and talented player with the skill-set of Lauri Markkanen,” said Altman. “He has the proven ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor from the perimeter and, at 24-years-old, we believe his best basketball is in front of him. We are committed to establishing a winning culture in Cleveland that can be sustained over time and Lauri helps elevate that description.”

Bulls interested in Maxi Kleber as part of Lauri Markkanen swap with Dallas?

Dallas could offer Markkanen, say, a three-year deal worth $44 million and send back about $10 million in offsetting salary in a direct trade not involving its TPE. I’ve heard Chicago has interest in Kleber; it’s a riskier deal for Dallas giving up both a rotational player and signing Markkanen to a higher salary point. It might be a worthwhile gamble, although you would have to really talk me into it. Kleber has been the better player in past seasons — or, at least, the more useful one for a team with postseason aspirations.

The Bulls have until Aug. 1 to extend a one-year qualifying offer to Markkanen and Javonte Green. Markkanen averaged a minimum of 34.25 starts over the past two seasons and has reached starter criteria, earning him a $9.0 million offer. Green was acquired at the trade deadline and appeared in only six games, averaging 5.5 minutes. His one-year contract is for $1.9 million. The qualifying offer will tag each player with the restricted free-agent status, allowing the Bulls to match an offer sheet.

Lauri Markkanen to explore free agency this offseason

In a phone interview with NBC Sports Chicago following an up-and-down season that featured him moving from focal point to reserve, the mild-mannered forward made clear his approach to his restricted free agency this offseason. “My thing is I think I’ve always been a team-first guy. And I think now it’s time to look at the business side of the game,” Markkanen said. “I feel like I’m only 23 years old and I have a lot of basketball ahead of me. It’s a good opportunity to look what’s out there for me. I can be a focal point. I think I have a lot more to offer.”

If a big-money offer comes his way, are the Bulls going to commit millions to a player that Donovan viewed a poor enough pairing alongside a centerpiece like Vučević that he brought him off the bench? Markkanen said such details didn’t come up in his exit meeting. “We talked about stuff I can do better and some stuff I did well this year. Obviously, we talked about what to work on. But we didn’t talk about the business side that much,” Markkanen said. “Wherever it is going to be, I’m committed to the team. You know that about me. I’m excited to see what’s out there for me.”

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.

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

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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September 22, 2021 | 7:42 pm EDT Update