There is arguably no other Chicago Bulls player that should be focused more on tomorrow’s 2 p.m. CT trade deadline than Lauri Markkanen. Headed toward restricted free agency, rumors finally started to swirl earlier this week about the front office listening to trade proposals for the 23-year-old forward.
However, The Athletic’s Shams Charania didn’t go further than that. He simply reported that the Bulls had potential suitors and the Bulls front office was hearing out their pitches. But now, the Action Network’s Matt Moore has taken things that one step further, reporting that Chicago has started to actively search for roster improvements by dangling Markkanen in the trade market.
Even more specifically, Moore referenced Markkanen’s availability under a section titled: Will Victor Oladipo Go?:
The Bulls are actively involved in the market, multiple sources suggest, with Lauri Markkanen said to be involved. The Athletic said the Bulls are “listening” to offers, but league sources told The Action Network in recent days Chicago has moved to actively pursuing upgrades with the young stretch forward.
First things first, hearing out offers is one thing, but “actively pursuing upgrades” is another. And potentially being “actively involved” in a market for a player of Victor Oladipo’s caliber is something else. Especially on the heels of reports by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Rockets are making progress in Oladipo trade talks.
I’d genuinely be surprised if the Bulls ended up as the team to grab Oladipo by tomorrow afternoon. Not only is his fit alongside Zach LaVine a bit confusing, but he is positioned to receive a big payday this offseason. I’m just not sure I see this front office throwing all their eggs in an often-injured ball-dominant guard this offseason. Don’t get me wrong, I like Oladipo as a player, I’m just not sure how he would fit into any kind of current Bulls plan.
With that being the case, let’s focus less on that tie and more on the larger point. If Moore’s report is accurate, then the Bulls have started to initiate the Markkanen trade talks, which means we now have only more reasons to believe Markkanen is out of the organization’s long-term plans. So I’m curious to see if this means the front office would be open to a “taking anything we can get” approach as the deadline nears. Based on how meticulous and patient Arturas Karnisovas tends to be, my initial reaction would be that he doesn’t just settle for anything. But, hell, I think it’s something we have to consider if they are the ones now initiating the calls.
As for Markkanen, he had a chance to comment on a potential trade after Wednesday night’s troubling loss to the Collin Sexton-less Cleveland Cavaliers, and he was surprisingly open about the fact that he knew a trade could be possible when he didn’t sign his extension this offseason. However, he also told reporters that he felt like he was “in a good place,” and didn’t go out of his way to ask Karnisovas whether or not a potential deal could be in the works.
Lauri Markkanen hasn't approached the #Bulls' front office about any trade rumors that he has landed in. He added he understands the business and speculation doesn't bother him.
"I knew that was one possibility when I didn't sign my extension," Markkanen says.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) March 25, 2021
I’d still say the chances of Markkanen being on the team past tomorrow are above 50 percent, but what about after this season? Well, that’s probably lower.