The trade deadline came and went, and Lauri Markkanen remains a Chicago Bull. But there’s little optimism in his returning to the Windy City next season.
Since the arrivals of new faces Nikola Vucevic and Daniel Theis, the fourth-year forward has seen his consistent starting role slide to just two appearances over the last seven games.
Markkanen has been very vocal in his identifying as a starting player in this league. If the Chicago Bulls don’t have such a role to offer, isn’t parting ways the best outcome for both sides?
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Bulls Almost Traded Markkanen
It’s no secret around the league that Chicago is interested in pairing point guard Lonzo Ball with their two current All-Stars in Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine.
They made a big push to acquire the 23-year old at the deadline, but were unable to come to terms on a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, who reportedly turned down an offer including Lauri Markkanen.
Given that the two players are both headed for restricted free agency, that kind of deal makes little sense if it’s just player-for-player swap. If the Pelicans are hesitant to pay Ball, then why would they want Markkanen?
Regardless, in a not-so-distant reality, he’s not in Chicago after the trade deadline. That along with his adjusted role after the fact should be enough evidence for anyone curious about Markkanen’s future.
Lauri to Charlotte, Dallas?
In her latest for CBS Sports, Jasmyn Wimbish says both the Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks make sense as potential landing spot for the seven-foot forward:
Imagine him getting fed passes by Luka Doncic as a member of the Mavericks, who are positioned to have around $34 million in cap space this summer. Or playing around guys like LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier as a member of the suddenly exciting Hornets, who are also projected to have around $25 million of cap space to work with.
The two teams mentioned are unsurprising to read, given they’re both having the one thing holding back the Chicago Bulls most: a capable floor general. Dallas has Luka Doncic, Charlotte has LaMelo Ball.
Tomas Satoransky has filled the role of starting point guard since before the deadline, but no one’s associating his passing ability to the likes of the aforementioned, generational talents.
Chicago’s 4-8 since promoting the 29-year old, and according to NBA.com’s Passes Tracking, he’s only recorded two assists to Lauri Markkanen since the trade deadline. That’s the lowest mark among all players Satoransky’s assisted.
It seems possible that Chicago’s lack of a point guard could prove the downfall of both their season and Markkanen’s tenure.
For now, both the Chicago Bulls and Lauri Markkanen will continue on through this season, potentially their last together, with hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
If they do, maybe the outlook is different on a potential extension.
If they don’t, moving on becomes one of few viable paths forward.