Lauri Markkanen and the Chicago Bulls’ relationship is seemingly coming to an end. On July 30, the Bulls extended a qualifying offer to Markkanen, making him a restricted free agent. This scenario allows the Bulls to match any deal that other teams may offer to Markkanen. If the Bulls chose to match, they would retain Markkanen.
The two sides could not reach a contract extension agreement in the 2020 NBA offseason. Markkanen and his camp chose to bet on themselves, but injuries and COVID-19 played spoiler. The sharpshooting Markkanen averaged career lows in points, rebounds, and assists per game in 2020-21, though his shooting percentages were career-high figures from the field and from downtown.
Now, a few teams have their eye on the Bulls’ big man. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves — Markkanen’s draft team — have all shown interest in the Finnish product. According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, the Bulls and Markkanen are open to a sign-and-trade deal that would provide the forward a change of scenery while the Bulls net a return of some sort.
It’s safe to say Markkanen never reached his full potential with the Bulls. Perhaps joining a new team will help Markkanen become a premier player in the league. There are several options on the table, so it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds when free agency begins.