Don't Freak Out About LaVine and Klutch, Grading the Markkanen Sign-and-Trade, Ayo Surprise, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Don’t Freak Out About LaVine and Klutch, Grading the Markkanen Sign-and-Trade, Ayo Surprise, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I want to advice you not to freak out by the following information, but I know that will be about as successful as most of these milk crate challenges.

So … go crazy!

•   For those who may not understand all the hullabaloo, all you really need to know is Klutch Sports is a big deal. The company is run by Rich Paul, a close friend of LeBron James, and represents other prominent NBA players such as Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, and Draymond Green. Crazy Laker fans are probably about to start customizing LaVine jerseys, but there is no need for anyone to read that much into this for the time being. Free agency is on the horizon and LaVine wants to ensure he gets the biggest possible paycheck. Klutch can provide LaVine with a bit more leverage by putting a little more heat on Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley. Not to mention, as LaVine becomes a bigger and bigger star, Klutch is a proven commodity that can probably help him open up even more opportunities off the court.

•   In other words, no, this agency shift does not have any immediate impact on LaVine’s future as a Chicago Bull. In fact, Lonzo Ball is also a Klutch member, so this front office has plenty of recent experience striking a deal with that particular group. I also think it would be rather silly for Klutch to push a young highly-coveted client like Ball to Chicago only to screw him over by convincing his All-Star teammate to go elsewhere in 2022. I know business is business, but I expect all parties have interest in keeping these two together moving forward.

•   On October 5th, Lauri Markkanen will suit up for his first-ever game in a non-Chicago Bulls uniform. Who will that first-ever game be against, you ask? That’s right, the Chicago Bulls. While it may be only an exhibition matchup, it’s hard to imagine Markkanen will treat it as such. The big man might not hold any public animosity toward the franchise, especially since they granted his wish and flew him out of the Windy City. But how can he not have some kind of chip on his shoulder after everything that has transpired over the last year? Not only did the two sides fail to reach a contract extension, but the Bulls benched him midseason and shopped him at the trade deadline. Through their actions, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley made clear they did not view Markkanen as a formidable part of their future plans. We might all think it was the right decision (and it was for a variety of reasons), but there is no way in hell Markkanen does.

•   If Markkanen fails to make the Bulls regret their decision not to build around him on October 5th, he will also have a chance to do so five days later. Then, the preseason will close, and Markkanen can circle December 8th, January 19th, March 12th, and March 26th on his calendar. Chicago’s former No. 7-overall pick is not going anywhere. Traded within the Central Division and on a fresh four-year deal, the Bulls will see Markkanen four times a season for many years to come.

•   FWIW: I don’t wish Markkanen any ill-will. While I’ll gladly watch Patrick Williams dunk on him for many years to come, it is not Markkanen’s fault he failed to live up to expectations in Chicago. The former regime tattooed those massive expectations on his forehead when he became a staple in the Jimmy Butler trade. Then, they failed to establish a competent player development staff and gave the big man three different coaches. Sure, I wish Markkanen played more physically and assertively, but maybe that simply is not his game. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and you just have to live with that (the fact the Bulls added Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic make that much easier to live with, though).

•   People around the league have given the Bulls front office a round of applause for this Markkanen deal. Not only did they acquiring a first-rounder and second-rounder to make up for the lost picks in the DeRozan and Ball deals, but this sign-and-trade also netted the team an actual rotation player in Derrick Jones Jr. Accomplishing all three things is why ESPN’s Kevin Pelton handed the Bulls a B+ for their part of transaction, and The Athletic’s Zach Harper followed suit with the same grade.

•   I want to give this deal an A, but the B+ is probably right on the nose. We have to factor in that Markkanen still has a pretty intriguing talent. I know he did not have any kind of clear future in Chicago, but he is still a seven-footer who shot 40 percent from downtown last season. He also averaged a near double-double during the 2018-19 season with 18.9 points and 9.0 rebounds. The upside is still there. Additionally, while Derrick Jones Jr. feels like a player who fills a needed skillset, it is hard not to wonder if the Bulls should have just grabbed Larry Nance Jr. A more traditional frontcourt piece and proven high-impact defender, Nance would 100 percent fit with what the Bulls need next Nikola Vucevic (as well as the team’s win-now mindset). But, hey, they opted for replenishing draft capital, and that is fine by me!

•   The NBA is mandating extra safety precautions as we near (what is supposed to be) a normal regular season.

•   How can you not love Ayo Dosunmu?

•   10/10 edit



Author: Elias Schuster

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