NBA Rumor: Lauri Markkanen Trade

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For executives around the league, the message appeared to be that the Bulls did not want to move Markkanen, even though it is clear the former No. 7 pick wanted a fresh start and asked out. Markkanen fully expected to be part of the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade package to San Antonio, but Chicago is believed to have pulled him from the proposal, sources said. Markkanen had a one-year, $9 million qualifying offer on the table. But after a major offseason acquiring DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, the Bulls wanted to address the Markkanen situation sooner rather than later. If Markkanen signed the qualifying offer, he would have had a no-trade clause and therefore the Bulls risked losing him for nothing at the end of the season. The Bulls received a strong haul in a rotation player like Jones and two draft picks in Friday’s trade.

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.

Markkanen is different. There is interest in him, and the Bulls have had talks with the New Orleans Pelicans centered on Ball. How rich of an offer Karnišovas is willing to make for a player who, like Markkanen, can be signed to an offer sheet in restricted free agency will be revealed by Thursday’s deadline. Markkanen isn’t sweating it. “I’m in a good place that I can focus on the task at hand. I can play games and it’s not gonna bother me,” he said of the deadline. “I can’t control that.”

Bulls listening to Lauri Markkanen suitors

Teams have expressed interest in Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, and Chicago is listening to potential suitors, sources said. Markkanen has had a bounce-back season for the Bulls, averaging 17.7 points and six rebounds per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point land. Markkanen will be a sought-after restricted free agent this offseason. — Shams Charania

What’s more unclear is the status of Markkanen, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Bulls might not want to match what Markkanen could get on the open market this summer, especially in a free-agent market that has lost much of its star power. However, any team trading for the 7-footer would face the same dilemma. “I think they’d trade Markkanen if they get a good offer, but I don’t think they’re likely to trade him,” said an East executive. “I don’t think they do anything unless they get something they love.”

According to coach Billy Donovan, his conversations with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas have been about the current roster and the last player he spoke with about roster security was forward Lauri Markkanen. ‘‘The only conversation I had with anybody about that was Lauri when that extension [talk] kind of came and went [in December],’’ Donovan said Monday. ‘‘I was not so much talking to him about what had happened, but I just wanted to make sure he was in a good place to go out and play because we were just kind of right at the end of the preseason. I have not had any players come to me and talk to me about that.’’

Teams interested in Wendell Carter

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

Clippers interested in Thaddeus Young, Kris Dunn

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.
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September 22, 2021 | 7:42 pm EDT Update