The future of fourth-year forward Lauri Markkanen ruled headlines throughout the Chicago Bulls 2020-2021 campaign, and the lack of resolution is bleeding into their offseason.
Arturas Karnisovas and company opted not to deal the 24-year old at the trade deadline, with hopes of getting real value back for the forward via a sign-and-trade this offseason.
Chicago took the first steps toward doing so on Friday, when they tendered Markkanen his qualifying offer, finalizing his status as a restricted free agent.
Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with reports:
Now the only question is which teams that are targeting Lauri Markkanen have something that could interest the Chicago Bulls, and whether or not all sides can agree to a mutually beneficial deal.
He averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds across 51 games played last season.
Scotto: ‘Mulitple Teams’ Interested in Lauri
In his latest reporting for HoopsHype, insider Michael Scotto touched on the markets and futures of a number of free agents, including Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls.
He insisted that there will be a market for the 24-year old this summer, primarily made up of Western teams:
Multiple teams with cap space entering the offseason also have Markkanen on their free agency radar, including the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, HoopsHype has learned.
Scotto also linked the Minnesota Timberwolves as a team to watch for Markkanen once free agency opens on Monday:
One team to keep an eye on in the sign-and-trade market for Markkanen is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who’ve been searching for an upgrade at the power forward position.
They’re likely mulling over his fit next to two-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, the face of the franchise.
In theory, he and Markkanen would provide a five-out, floor-spacing ability on the offensive end.
But on the defensive end, it’s easy to see how the Timberwolves would struggle to contain opposing big men.
Regardless, if they’re truly interested, Chicago should approach them about a sign-and-trade.
Yet it’s unlikely Minnesota is willing to part with anything that the Bulls ask for back in a trade for Lauri.
Bulls Trading with Timberwolves is Unlikely
When trying to map out the framework for any Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade, there’s only one place to start: the Chicago Bulls’ dire need for point guard help.
So any team they’re to engage on a deal involving the former seventh overall pick, would likely be in hopes of acquiring help at the aforementioned position.
Up until a few days ago, it’s possible that the Minnesota Timberwolves would have been able to accommodate.
But unfortunately, the one point guard that anyone considered available on their roster, has been shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers, in exchange for journeyman forward Taurean Prince.
The only other point guard on the roster, D’Angelo Russell, makes far more ($30M+) than Markkanen can expect to bring in, and is also a very close friend of Towns.
So barring a three-team deal where the Minnesota Timberwolves find the Chicago Bulls a worthy point guard addition, it seems unlikely that they’d help Lauri Markkanen find himself to the Twin City.
But as an interested party, fans shouldn’t rule out the possibility.
This is the NBA, a business where things often change faster than they set.