NBA Rumor: Lauri Markkanen Free Agency

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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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May 8, 2021 | 4:25 am EDT Update