As NBA free agency continues, a new team has shown interest in Chicago Bulls’ forward Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls have made a flurry of moves with the additions of Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, and Tony Bradley. As a result, the Bulls have limited cap space left with restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen still needing a contract.
The Charlotte Hornets have emerged as possible suitors for the Finnish forward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Markkanen just completed the fourth and final year of his rookie contract with the Bulls. When talks before the season stalled, Markkanen was left without a contract extension from the Bulls. Rumors had been circling that the Bulls were trying to find a sign-and-trade deal, and Minnesota and San Antonio were two teams showing interest. However, according to this Charania’s most recent report, the Bulls might be forced to match a potential offer from conference rivals in Charlotte.
Rumors surrounding the Bulls and other NBA teams suggest that Markkanen has been looking to sign a contract that would see him paid over $10 million annually. It appears teams are reluctant to offer Markkanen that much money. Markkanen appeared in 51 games last season, averaging 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and shooting 40% from three-point range. These point and rebound averages were both career lows for the seven-footer.
There still seems to be a gap between what the Bulls are willing to offer and Markkanen’s demands. The current Bulls front office brass did not draft Markkanen, so this offseason may be the end of Markkanen’s time in Chicago.