Lauri Markkanen on Leaving Bulls: ‘Relieved That Stretch is Over’

Lauri Markkanen

Getty Lauri Markkanen handles the ball during a May 15 game against the Brooklyn Nets.

As the NBA’s media week kicks off, a number of former, as well as new, Chicago Bulls players will take center stage and talk about their time with the team.

Outside of the Windy City, none will draw more eyes than Lauri Markkanen, who after a months-long saga was shipped out to the division rival Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 24-year old, once deemed the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade, left the Bulls after not only zero playoff appearances, but a lowly 102-199 record.

In his first public appearances with the Cavaliers, rocking the same number 24 jersey he wore with Chicago, Markkanen was asked to reflect on his first NBA stretch.

He responded, not disapprovingly, but dismissively. Via @EvanDammarell on Twitter:

Now, the former seventh overall pick is on to greener pastures.

And so are the Chicago Bulls.

But it wasn’t always so certain that Lauri Markkanen wasn’t long for the Windy City.

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Markkanen: Bulls Offered 4 Years, $60-Million

Extension negotiations between the Chicago Bulls and Lauri Markkanen opened up last December.

But the two sides failed to come to terms on an agreement, which set the 24-year old up for restricted free agency.

The rest is history, with Chicago trading Markkanen to Cleveland, where he signed a four-year/$64-million contract.

Yet as he tells it, the Bulls came close to offering the same deal during their contract negotiations last season:

There are two big takeaways from Markkanen’s retelling of his talks with Chicago.

Firstly, the Bulls dodged an incredibly lucrative bullet, one that would have all but prevented them from having the same offseason they put together this summer.

With the cap space they’d accrued, along with strategic positioning of assets, Chicago was able to sign and trade for point guard Lonzo Ball, and four-time All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan.

And secondly, that the Bulls did make an effort at retaining Markkanen. That much is good for the culture at a minimum.

It should also continue to reinforce the idea that Arturas Karnisovas and this front office aren’t afraid to spend.

As for Lauri Markkanen’s legacy…

A New Number 24

Javonte Green landed with the Chicago Bulls at last year’s trade deadline, by way of a three-team deal that also brought Daniel Theis and Troy Brown Jr. to the Windy City.

Often dubbed a “spark plug guard off the bench,” he was re-upped for another two seasons with the team in free agency.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first with those reports on August 6:

Green played a minimal role in Chicago over just 16 games, but the potential for his impact can be felt and seen when looking at his numbers on a higher volume.

Per 36 minutes, the 28-year old averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game.

After wearing number 11 last season, Green is now set to wear Lauri Markkanen’s old jersey number, 24, next season.

That is the end of the Finnish forward’s legacy in the Windy City.

And potentially, the start of a new one for the Chicago Bulls and Javonte Green.

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