2 Ex-Bulls Highlight Potential Lauri Markkanen Replacements

Doug McDermott

Getty Rudy Gobert attempts to block Doug McDermott's layup during a February 7 game against the Indiana Pacers.

One of, if not the most pressing order of business for the Chicago Bulls this summer will be determining the future of former seventh overall pick Lauri Markkanen.

The fourth-year forward is headed for restricted free agency, after the two sides failed to come to terms on a rookie-based extension in December.

Markkanen’s 2020-2021 season with the Bulls wasn’t without struggle.

He was moved in and out of the starting lineup on multiple occasions before being permanently benched behind veteran big Daniel Theis to close the year.

The 24-year old averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds across 51 appearances for Chicago this season, while knocking down 40% of his three-point shots.

There’s little doubt as to whether or not a market will develop for Markkanen.

The only question is whether or not it will be via sign-and-trade, as to recoup value for the Bulls, or via a lucrative offer sheet that Chicago refuses to match.

Fortunately for Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls front office, this summer’s free agency market should offer a bevy of backup options to replace Lauri Markkanen’s contributions.

And two of them are faces familiar within the Windy City.

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(Face) Blast From the Past

The 22nd overall pick from the 2015 NBA Draft, Bobby Portis is widely expected to decline his $3.8 player option for next season, no matter how the Milwaukee Bucks fare in the ongoing 2021 NBA Finals.

Why not return to the team that drafted you, now hoping to return to the playoffs?

Of course, Portis’s time with the Bulls wasn’t necessarily uneventful.

His greatest highlight is the fistfight he got into at practice with former teammate Nikola Mirotic, who’s now playing overseas for FC Barcelona.

Chicago traded Mirotic at the following trade deadline, and Portis at the trade deadline after that.

But Portis would make for a nice frontcourt option off the bench next to veteran Thaddeus Young, following a year where he shot 47% from the three-point line.

And don’t let his decision to turn down a guaranteed $3.8-million sway you into thinking he’s after a big contract.

Portis will make more than that assuredly, but don’t expect his next deal to ring in at double digits annually.

Dougie McBuckets Reunion?

He predates Bobby Portis, but Doug McDermott had his moments with the Chicago Bulls too, don’t forget.

The 29-year old is headed for free agency after a productive season with an underwhelming Indiana Pacers team.

McDermott averaged a career-high 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while knocking down nearly 39% of his shots from behind the arc.

His market is largely unknown, but he’s definitely going to get paid.

McDermott could be plugged into either of the starting lineup or second unit for Chicago and provide the same consistent shot making from deep that will be missed in Lauri Markkanen’s pending absence.

And he’s a noted fan of Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, who’ll be going into his second year with the team.

McDermott shared his admiration for Donovan with NBA.com’s Sam Smith after he was hired to coach Chicago:

Guys go hard for him. His teams won and were good. I can’t say enough good things about him….There’s nobody I’ve ever been around who’s worked harder. And I played for Thibs. Billy D’s there at freakin’ 5:30 am. He’s there ’til late. He’s a hoops guy, all hoops.

It’s apart of why the Chicago Bulls brought in Billy Donovan in the first place, his ability to build relationships with not just stars, but his entire roster.

Bringing back a guy like Doug McDermott would only add to that narrative, and on the court, prove a necessary addition.

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