The Lauri Markkanen saga continues.
The 24-year-old big man wants a fresh start this offseason. He has reportedly received interest from a number of teams around the league, but he has yet to either sign an offer sheet or work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Bulls. Part of that could be because the front office is holding out for the best sign-and-trade offer they can find, and now it sounds like that offer could come from an old friend.
According to Marc Stein, the New Orleans Pelicans ARE interested in adding Markkanen to their roster.
Markkanen says he does not want to return to Chicago but has yet to manufacture a better option than one last season as a Bull to gain unrestricted free agency.
The Bulls and Pels also still haven't completed their Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade which is now under NBA investigation.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 8, 2021
The Bulls had reportedly discussed sending Markkanen to the organization back in March when conversations first started about acquiring point guard Lonzo Ball. The Pelicans did not seem too interested in centering a deal around the big man, however, and we instead saw the Bulls send Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and a second-round pick to the team in a sign-and-trade deal for Ball this week (which is now under investigation for tampering violations).
Now, I guess the Pelicans have a newfound interest in the sharpshooting seven-footer, which feels like it could open up the possibility of a revised sign-and-trade deal. We learned on Saturday, thanks to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Romana Shelburne, that the Ball deal had not yet been pushed through by the league office, and the transaction “could look different in its final form.” Does this mean Markkanen could re-enter the deal? Regardless, if a deal is struck with the Pelicans, what would the Bulls get in return?
Stein says Chicago wants a first-round pick, but the Pelicans might not view that as a move worth making, especially after sending a 2022 first-round pick to Charlotte for Devonte Graham earlier this week. At the same time, the organization does have 11 first-round selections over the next six drafts due to previous deals with the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis trade) and Milwaukee Bucks (Jrue Holiday). Just give us one, bruh! – AK (probably)
We also have to wonder whether or not Markkanen wants to go to New Orleans. At this point, I’m assuming he is ready to go wherever he can get paid, but he has also said in the past that he views himself as a starter in this league. With the franchise built around Zion Williamson, the chance to start at his traditional position would be non-existent.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz reported this morning that the Hornets also remain interested in Markkanen. We learned the organization had “strong interest” in Markkanen recently, but the front office went on to sign wing Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal, which felt like it squashed any chance of Markkanen ending up in Charlotte. However, it now appears the Hornets could still be open to a sign-and-trade.
#Hornets have emerged as a sleeper team interested in #Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, per sources. Charlotte likes the idea of pairing the versatile Markkanen (40% 3s) w/LaMelo in its two-man game. The 24-year-old Finnish product averaged 17/6 in 26 starts last season.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) August 8, 2021
If one thing is for sure, there still seems to be several options for Markkanen out there. The front office still has time to find the right deal, but I’m sure they are eager to get something done so they can finalize all their remaining summer signings.