The Chicago Bulls cold-shooting Lauri Markannen made a case for a contract extension in a 105-103 comeback victory in the Bulls’ preseason finale on Friday. Markannen posted a game-high 22 points and hit 4 of 10 3-pointers after a year of regression in 2019.
The performance won’t be enough to undo the worst season of the former 2017 seventh overall pick’s career, however, it could help close a reported gap between the Bulls and Markkanen’s agent.
Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, an affiliate of USA Today Sports, reported on Saturday that the Bulls and Markkanen “remain far apart in contract extension talks heading into the weekend.”
The deadline to finalize a rookie-scale extension for Markkanen is on Monday, leaving little time for Markkanen to prove his worth as the Bulls will negotiate based on the 23-year-old’s past performance.
Follow the Heavy on Bulls Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
Both Sides Publicly Want a Deal Done
Before the Bulls’ first game against the Thunder, coach Billy Donovan expressed his faith and desire to keep Markkanen.
“What I will say is we all believe Lauri is an important part to our team moving forward,” said Donovan, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “We feel like he’s only going to continue to get better and improve, but I would say that’s something that both sides are going to try and work out.”
Markkanen echoed similar sentiments, saying “I really want to be here long-term, so I’m putting some pressure on (my agent) to get (an extension) done.”
The stretch forward’s inconsistency and timing to get a deal done seem to be in the way as Markkanen is looking for a payday after former 2017 second-round Davis Bertans’ five-year, $80 million contract set the market for what a prolific stretch forward can make.
Markkanen’s pedestrian performance from beyond the arc in 2019, shooting 34.4% on 3-pointers, pales in comparison to Bertas, who has shot 42.6% from three-point range from 2018 to 2020.
Markkanen finished the preseason shooting a dismal 9-for-29 from three-point range, although Donovan has applauded the forward for continuing to shoot.
“I feel good about the shots. He’s not forcing it. There are some he could probably shot-fake a little bit, but for the most part, he’s taking pretty good looks,” Donovan said. “He is 7 feet, he can shoot over a lot of people, so he just has to keep internally having that confidence that the next one is going to go down.”
If Markkanen Bounces Back, He Could be in for a Huge Contract
If Chicago decides to pass on the deal, Markannencan bet on himself this season and curry favor in free agency with a bounce-back performance in 2020. The Bulls can tender a $9 million qualifying offer to Markannen and make him a restricted free agent.
Dependent on Markkanen’s play this season, he could become a free-agent departure if he can find a better contract elsewhere.
That’ll likely require him to duplicate his numbers from 2018-19, where he averaged 18.7 points per game, shot 36.1% from downtown and grabbed nine rebounds a game.
- Bulls’ Wendell Carter Jr. Responds to Twitter Drama About Justina Valentine
- Elite Bulls Defender Finds New Home in Eastern Conference
- Bulls Potential Draft Target Slammed by Wicked Talent Evaluation
- Bulls 1st-Rounder Reminds Iconic Writer of Jordan-Era Star
- Bulls 1st-Round Pick Sounds Off on Not Starting In College