Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is drawing interest once again from the Dallas Mavericks. But there seems to be one tiny problem: money.
Markkanen, who previously expressed his desire to play elsewhere, is reportedly seeking a contract of $15 million annually. However, most NBA teams with interest do not have the space to sign Markkanen at that dollar amount.
The Bulls front office maintains all the leverage in this particular situation. Before NBA free agency opened, the Bulls extended Markkanen a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. This means the Bulls now have the right of first refusal, so other teams can offer Markkanen a multi-year contract, but the Bulls have three days to match it. If Markkanen were to sign the qualifying offer, he would make just over $9 million during the 2021-22 NBA season. If that scenario comes to fruition, Markkanen would remain with the Bulls this season and become an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 NBA offseason. But as mentioned previously, Markkanen wants out of Chicago.
The Mavericks have been linked to Markkanen before and there seems to be mutual interest between the two parties. Reports in early June indicated Markkanen would love to play alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porziņģis. If Markkanen is willing to accept a lower dollar amount over the next four years just to get out of Chicago, this may be the route for him to go. If the Bulls are able to trade Markkanen for a player they desire on Dallas, or maybe even no salary coming back, it could work for all parties involved.