Markkanen Sounds Off On Future with Bulls: ‘I Want a Fresh Start’

Lauri Markkanen

Getty Lauri Markkanen is guarded by Matisse Thybulle in a March 11 game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The future of fourth-year forward Lauri Markkanen ruled headlines throughout the Chicago Bulls 2020-2021 campaign, and the lack of a resolution is bleeding into their offseason.

With two top talents in DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball now in the fold, the 24-year old forward’s restricted free agency presents one of few remaining avenues to upgrade the roster.

He averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds across 51 games played last season.

But with five days passed since free agency’s open, Markkanen’s market remains unclear and unactive.

Both the Charlotte Hornets and San Antonio Spurs were once rumored suitors, but they’ve seemingly pivoted to other targets in recent days, all but ruling them out.

Is it too soon to predict a return to the Chicago Bulls?

One recent report suggests that Lauri Markkanen is ruling it out entirely.

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Markkanen: ‘We Have Several Offers’

Friday marks the first day in which restricted free agents can begin signing offer sheets from other teams.

And it appears that Lauri Markkanen is determined to do so.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Friday morning that the 24-year old is actively seeking a fresh start:

It’s unclear whether or not Markkanen truly has “several offers from different teams,” given the nature of the market. Charlotte and San Antonio represented two of the last teams with real cap space.

The Minnesota Timberwolves still loom as a dark horse, as reported by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto days ago.

And the staff at Bleacher Report has worked to put together two separate frameworks for a potential deal.

Markkanen to the Timberwolves?

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, one of his colleagues at Bleacher Report countered with a more fitting 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.

It seems that Lauri Markkanen finding his way out of the Chicago Bulls may be completely up to him.

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