Bulls and Markkanen Reportedly Open to a Sign-and-Trade Deal and Multiple Teams Are Interested
When rumors surfaced at the trade deadline that the Chicago Bulls were open to trading Lauri Markkanen, the writing was on the wall.
The 23-year-0ld officially became a restricted free agent on Friday when the organization extended him a qualifying offer. The move came was little more than a formality, as it bought the organization time to get their offseason plans in place and work out a sign-and-trade. Now, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto has provided an update on what those plans might look like for the big man this week.
The Chicago Bulls and forward Lauri Markkanen are open to a sign-and-trade deal, league sources told HoopsHype. 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.
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.
Funny enough, Minnesota is the team that “technically” drafted Markkanen before he was officially sent to the Chicago Bulls as part of the Jimmy Butler deal. The organization has hunted for an answer at the power forward position next to Karl-Anthony Towns for years, and it appears they believe Markkanen can finally be that long-term fit.
Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley would surely prefer a sign-and-trade for Markkanen since it could at least get them something in return. However, while it is positive to hear Markkanen is open to that possibility, he would still have to sign off on the final deal. In other words, would he be interested in going to Minnesota?
Markkanen did say after the regular season concluded that he viewed himself as a starter in this league. The Timberwolves should be able to offer him that opportunity, but they would also have several players ahead of him on the totem pole (i.e. KAT, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley). Not to mention, Scotto brought up two other teams who could attack Markkanen via an offer sheet: the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both the Thunder and Spurs will have plenty of cap space to spend this summer, and both are looking to reset their roster around young talent. A sign-and-trade with either one of those organizations can not be ruled out for Chicago, but they also would not have to worry about dumping any assets to make a convincing run at The Finnisher. If they offer (1) more money and/or (2) a bigger role in their rebuilding process, both parties might prefer to just accept that contract and call it a day.
FWIW: The Spurs feel like the main team to keep an eye on here, as this is not the first time they have been linked to Markkanen.
Anyway, regardless of the route chosen, all signs continue to point out of Illinois for Lauri Markkanen … whereas the opposite can be said about Lonzo Ball (*major eyeball emoji*).
REPORT: Lonzo Ball to Chicago Bulls Very Likelyhttps://t.co/nBgXHpDqmH pic.twitter.com/oskWty7rGm
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 1, 2021
Scotto’s full report can be read below:
Sources: The Chicago Bulls and Lauri Markkanen are open to a sign-and-trade deal. Keep an eye on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Multiple teams with cap space, including the San Antonio Spurs and OKC Thunder also have interest in Markkanen. More on @hoopshype. https://t.co/LYSPVYoj6x
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 1, 2021