Bulls Have Reportedly Turned Down Multiple Markkanen Trade Scenarios (UPDATE)

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Bulls Have Reportedly Turned Down Multiple Markkanen Trade Scenarios (UPDATE)

Chicago Bulls

(UPDATE: It’s happening. Lauri Markkanen is reportedly going to Cleveland in a three-team deal. Full details here.)

We are 23 days into NBA free agency, and the Lauri Markkanen news is just as sparse as ever. The 24-year-old never signed an offer sheet after being extended a qualifying offer this summer. And with cap space now dried up around the league, a sign-and-trade remains likely his only way out of Chicago.

As the days go by, however, the more likely it feels that Markkanen’s wish of a fresh start will not be granted. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley hold all the cards, and they’ve reportedly kept their asking price high, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson:

“For now, they’ve made clear in all proposals they’ve fielded from teams — and I’m told up to four teams have presented scenarios — that they’re seeking at least a first-round pick and no bad long-term money,” Johnson wrote in his latest mailbag.

Considering that the Bulls sent a total of three first-round draft picks in the deals for Nikola Vučević and DeMar DeRozan, it should come as no surprise to see the front office hoping to add draft compensation in a Markkanen deal. Likewise, with plenty of money tied up into those two All-Stars – and a big payday on the horizon for LaVine – the organization is not in a position to eat another team’s bad contract. It all adds up to explain why, as Johnson writes, “the Bulls have turned down” multiple deals for Markkanen this summer.

With that said, the info that four teams have come to Chicago with potential deals is encouraging. When these conversations took place is unknown, but it does tell us there are multiple sign-and-trade suitors, which means Karnisovas could still have several avenues to explore. And, hey, perhaps he is prepared to lower the asking price to eventually pull off a transaction if another team does not bite soon.

At the same time something is going to have to give. And we wrote about this a bit on Tuesday, so check it out.

The Bulls very well might be okay with Markkanen returning to fill a bench role next season, but this outcome also likely means losing him for nothing next offseason. And then there are locker room considerations. Are we sure his presence in the locker room will not be a nuisance? While Markkanen has been nothing short of professional during his days in the Windy City, he also has never been this vocal about his desire to play elsewhere. With a crucial season on the horizon, the last thing this coaching staff needs is any unnecessary locker room tension.

Then again, playing hardball is fine by me. For both sides, really. However, training camp is also almost one month away. The Bulls still have a couple of roster spots to fill, and there will be a sizable hole at the power forward position if Lauri Markkanen is sent elsewhere. I’m comfortable with the Bulls turning down deals up until this point, but if both parties see divorce as the best possible outcome (the team’s desire to move him at the deadline and Markkanen’s comments seem to insinuate such), the time might as well be now for the front office to take what they can get.

FWIW: Another thing Johnson mentioned is that the tampering investigation should have no impact on the Markkanen discussion. I saw this thought gain some traction online over the past week, but it never made much sense. Sure, it’s possible the Bulls are set on this first-round pick because they fear the league might take away another as punishment. However, there is no reported timeline for the findings of this investigation to be released, meaning it could stretch very close to training camp. We also have no real reason to believe the league would not allow the team to conduct business while they investigate. After all, this would be a completely separate transaction.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.