The Chicago Bulls have wasted no time bringing in new faces in free agency. Which means all signs are pointing to Lauri Markkanen to playing elsewhere.
Markkanen as a free agent is intriguing. He never quite flourished into what people thought he would be when he was taken 7th overall in 2017 by the Minnesota Timberwolves and sent to the Bulls in the Jimmy Butler trade. The Markkanen trade rumors have picked up the last year or so and a Markkanen trade could still be in play.
At 24 years old, he’s an intriguing option for a team looking to build. Injuries have been a problem as he has yet to play over 55 games in any of his first four seasons. And a change of scenery might benefit the Finnish forward.
Lauri Markkanen free agency rumors
There haven’t been a ton of Markkanen free agent rumors out there. He is coming off a season where he averaged career-lows in points per game (13.6), rebounds (5.3) and assists (0.9). He did post career-highs in percentages from the field (48.0%) and beyond the arc (40.2%).
The cost for Markkanen might not be as high as it once was when Chicago began to discuss the possibility of trading him. They did give him a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, but that could point to a sign-and-trade.
Here are three teams that Markkanen could end up on in free agency.
If there is one team that seems the favorite to land Markkanen, it’s the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs are highly interested in a double sign-and-trade involving Markkanen and DeMar DeRozan going back to the Bulls.
It’s easy to see why the Bulls would want a proven scorer like DeRozan. But you have to think it’s not as simple as a one-for-one. The Bulls would have to give something else up to package with Markkanen. San Antonio is headed to a rebuild, especially with DeRozan out the door and Patty Mills as well.
You read that right. The same team that traded away Markkanen before he played a single game for them is interested in bringing him back.
The Minnesota Timberwolves need help at the forward position. They have center locked down with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards looks to have the makings of a No. 1 guard. But they need another big to pair with Towns and Markkanen could be that guy. It would be another sign-and-trade so what the T-Wolves would have to give up is unknown.
But if it would be a lot less than trying to trade for a Myles Turner.
Did someone say rebuild? The Oklahoma City Thunder and all are of their draft picks are indeed interested in acquiring a player, not just trading one away.
Fresh off of extending young star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder are looking to bring in a proven forward. They have four on their roster, including first-round picks Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokuševski. But Markkanen is a sure thing.
There is the chance the Thunder could throw the bag at Markkanen and price the Bulls out of matching range, or they could facilitate a sign-and-trade. They certainly have the assets to do so.
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