The deadline for Lauri Markkanen and the Chicago Bulls to agree on a rookie-scale contract extension is two days away, but there has been very little word on how those talks have progressed behind the scenes. Now, according to HoopsHype, we know that the two sides “remain far apart” as we head into the last weekend to strike a deal.
All things considered, I don’t think any of us should be surprised to hear this news. As we’ve talked about numerous times, it was almost impossible that the Bulls and Markkanen began negotiations on the same page (let alone the same book). The Bulls 2017 first-round draft pick is coming off the worst season of his career, which is not the best way to convince a new front office that you’re worth a long-term financial investment.
While the front office and coaching staff have expressed their belief in Markkanen numerous times, they’re likely running their negotiations on a “what have you done for me lately” basis. Meanwhile, Markkanen’s camp must do their best to convince the Bulls to invest in the “what if.”
An approaching deadline can oftentimes pressure both sides to reach an agreement, but it’s always been the case that someone will have to cave. Envisioning that side as the Bulls new front office is a bit difficult, especially when we consider (1) he was not their draft pick, and (2) he struggled to have a strong preseason.
At the same time, Markkanen’s probably being advised not to settle. There is little doubt that if he can have a bounce-back season, the market for him in 2021 (when he would become a restricted free agent) will explode. We have seen stretch bigs bring in quite the haul recently, whether it be Domantas Sabonis on a four-year, $77 million deal, Nikola Vucevic on a five-year, $100 million (he’s a center, but still someone who spaces the floor), or Davis Bertans on a five-year, $80 million deal. I have to imagine Markkanen is looking for something in the Sabonis ballpark as of now, and the Bulls are likely not prepared to go that high.
Heck, maybe the two sides failing to reach an agreement can be the best-case scenario for both sides. While the Bulls may frustratingly have to spend more money to keep him next season, it would be more worth it if The Finnisher has a career season thanks to this chip on his shoulder.
To get caught up on the Markkanen situation, check this stuff out:
Bulls Commitment to Lauri Markkanen Has Not Wavered, But the Deadline for an Extension Loomshttps://t.co/losJWgnhqi
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 17, 2020
Now Is the Time for Lauri Markkanen to Right the Shiphttps://t.co/HWsMxNToY7
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 16, 2020
Lauri Markkanen Is “Putting Some Pressure” on His Agent to Work Out an Extension https://t.co/mMiu9jq2iN
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 1, 2020