Bulls Trade Proposal Swaps Markkanen for 2 Former First-Round Picks

Lauri Markkanen

Getty Lauri Markkanen shoots a three-pointer in a March 16 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls offseason has been everything fans had hoped for, but there’s still one item remaining on their free agency agenda.

That would be the restricted free agency of fourth-year forward Lauri Markkanen.

After failing to reach an agreement on an extension during the season, his future in Chicago is up in the air.

But now that the Bulls have acquired both DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, they’re running out of cap space and may attempt to utilize Markkanen in a sign-and-trade to recoup value for the 24-year old.

Going into day four of free agency, will they find a trade partner?

One analyst has him linked to a team that’s been largely quiet, implying that this could be their free agency splash.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, who trade Lauri Markkanen on draft night in 2017, in exchange for Jimmy Butler.

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Markkanen to Minnesota?

In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, Fresh NBA Trade Ideas Spinning off Latest Rumors, Greg Swartz thumbed through a couple of trade ideas based on the latest offseason intel.

The Chicago Bulls and Lauri Markkanen were featured, in a deal that sends him to the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Chicago Bulls receive: Jarrett Culver, Juancho Hernangomez

Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Lauri Markkanen (via sign-and-trade)

Both of the players Swartz proposes for the Bulls here are former first-round picks that have yet to pan out.

Culver was taken with the sixth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and Hernangomez was drafted at 15th in 2016.

Would a team like Chicago, that’s trying so desperately to win now, be open to taking on reclamation projects?

Ironically enough, it’s possible that one of Swartz’s colleagues at Bleacher Report had the same thought.

Buckley’s Trade Proposal

In a more recent column for Bleacher Report, Zach Buckley proposed a trade with the Timberwolves, but under a different framework:

Chicago Bulls receive: Taurean Prince, 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected)

Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Lauri Markkanen (via sign-and-trade)

This deal makes a lot more sense for the Bulls and in more than one way.

Prince, a 27-year old veteran, averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while hitting 40% of his three-pointers last season between stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

He’d help to recoup the shooting lost in Markkanen’s absence, and with a first-round to boot?

It’s hard to see Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls front office turning this one down, especially after giving up three first-round picks in between the deals for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.

But as is the case with sign-and-trade acquisitions, it comes down to the free-agent involved, and their next deal.

Markkanen Asking for Too Much Money

It’s possible that Lauri Markkanen’s desired salary is hindering the Chicago Bulls’ hopes of a sign-and-trade.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday that both he and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s eyes may have been too big for their stomach when it came to the market this offseason:

And on the latest episode of the Hoop Collective, insider Brian Windhorst confirmed that, saying that Markkanen would have gone to the Spurs in the DeMar DeRozan deal if not for his desired contract number.

There’s no doubt that the Minnesota Timberwolves have an eye on Lauri Markkanen.

That much has been confirmed by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto.

But it appears that whether or not he lands there is completely up to the free-agent forward.

Until this much is decided, the Chicago Bulls’ offseason will remain in limbo.

READ NEXT: Chicago Bulls Veteran Reacts to Being Traded for Lonzo Ball

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