The Chicago Bulls have three roster spots left to fill. At least two of the players who will fill those spots need to be able to play the power forward position.
Lauri Markkanen is still technically a part of the roster, though it is widely believed he will be traded before the 2021-22 NBA season begins. Markkanen wants out of Chicago, but the Bulls are in control.
While most signs point to an exit for the Finnisher, one NBA analyst pumps the brakes on the Markkanen exit talk and offers an alternative.
What If Lauri Markkanen Stays With the Bulls and Thrives?
NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson explored the possibility of Markkanen remaining with the Bulls on the qualifying offer during the latest episode of the Bulls Talk podcast.
The segment begins at the 5:00 mark of the podcast.
Using former Bull Bobby Portis’ situation as an example, Johnson painted a best-case scenario for Markkanen and the Bulls. What If Markkanen stays and thrives in a Sixth-Man role, and the Bulls experience breakthrough success next season?
That is essentially the crux of Johnson’s take, but to be more specific, Johnson wonders how things might change if Markkanen wins Sixth-Man of the Year and the Bulls win 60 games and the NBA Championship. To culminate, Johnson punctuated the dream with Markkanen re-signing a long-term deal with the Bulls after re-discovering a love for the organization which influences him to abandon his previously stated desire to get a “fresh start.”
Johnson admits he’s “getting out over of his skis” with his utopian concept, but his point is, things can change in the NBA. What was once seen as an impossible situation can become the most likely outcome if one or two factors change.
Several Factors Point to Lauri Markkanen Leaving the Bulls
On the less fun and practical side, let’s say Markkanen does have a great season and wins the Sixth-Man of the Year. It’s not as crazy of a thought as you might think considering we are talking about a 24-year-old 7-footer with solid athleticism and who makes 40% of his three-point attempts.
Even if he does have that sort of season, the Bulls still aren’t likely to be better than the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. That seems to go without saying.
On an even more practical level, the chances Markkanen would stay with the Bulls rather than taking what would almost certainly be a bigger offer elsewhere, especially after such a huge potential season, seems almost impossible. Markkanen has made it clear, he wants to start. Also, he is in a different situation than Portis.
Markkanen was a lottery pick who came into the NBA with much higher expectations than Portis, who was drafted 22nd overall. Just proving to be a regular rotation player was important to Portis, and he has done that, but the lower initial starting point makes him more apt to accept a role with the world champion Milwaukee Bucks than Markkanen would be in a similar scenario.
Most Bulls fans would leap for joy if Johnson’s hypothetical situation plays out, but it is far more likely the Bulls trade Markkanen to the highest bidder.
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