Lauri Markkanen is a player who has faced reduced opportunity on the Chicago Bulls over the last two seasons and has been moved to a bench role for part of this season. It is clear that the Chicago Bulls will not get the best out of him, and with the roster moves they made this offseason, it's hard to see how Markkanen fits into the picture. However, Lauri Markkanen still has valuable skills as a big man, and perhaps another opportunity could help him take the next step in his development.
There are definitely a lot of teams out there that would be interested in Markkanen. He can shoot the ball well as a big man and has some value as a floor spacer. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that 4 different teams are interested in acquiring Lauri Markkanen via a sign and trade, but that the Chicago Bulls want a pick to allow the transaction to happen. The teams listed are the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Either way, each team that has inquired about Markkanen would have to now add him via sign-and-trade, as cap space has dwindled across the league. Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, and Minnesota have all shown interest in signing Markkanen to deals worth around $15 million in average annual value, sources said, but the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for helping facilitate the transaction. Additionally, Chicago brass are requiring Markkanen's new team to find a third trade partner to take on the outgoing salary needed to create space for Markkanen's contract.
For a third team to take on unwanted salary, this hypothetical front office would also ask for draft-pick compensation. So any team that wants to add Markkanen now would have to send a first-round pick to Chicago and likely another first or two second-rounders elsewhere. It's a clear roadblock the Bulls seem to have intentionally created.
"Chicago is playing this masterfully from no other perspective than a contract management standpoint," said one team capologist. "It won't do any favors relationship-wise, but they're bleeding his market based on their tax situation, and nobody else can offer him any kind of money without them."
It is clear that the Chicago Bulls' demands are holding up a Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade, but it is certainly still possible for a deal to get done. Lauri Markkanen would fit well with the four teams mentioned as potential suitors, and in a league that has emphasized the 3PT shot over the last few years, it's easy to see why those teams want Markkanen. It remains to be seen where the Finnish big man will end up, but it is clear that Lauri Markkanen needs a new start.