Amidst a career-best season for Chicago forward Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls are reportedly “listening to potential suitors” as the NBA trade deadline nears, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
In his fourth season out of the University of Arizona, Markannen finally seems to have found a role that suits him in Billy Donovan’s smaller and more versatile offensive scheme. Markkanen is posting a career-high three-point rate and a career-high true shooting percentage in 30 minutes per game, though a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder cost him 13 games in February, following a pelvis injury the prior month.
Looming over Chicago’s decision is Markkanen’s impending restricted free agency. Because of the advantage of having matching rights on any offer sheet a player signs, rarely in the NBA do restricted free agents change hands at the trade deadline before their contract expires.
Last fall, KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported that the Bulls and Markkanen were about $4 million apart on the salary for year one of a potential multiyear extension. If the two sides are still on a different page about Markkanen’s value, perhaps they don’t see a future together.
That could lead Chicago to be a little more aggressive in the final 24 or so hours before the trade deadline.