The Chicago Bulls entered the season hoping that it would mark the beginning of a renaissance, and while the playoffs felt like an unrealistic aspiration, some hoped it would at least mark the first step towards contention.
There was plenty of reason for optimism going in. Zach LaVine was returning from an injury that sidelined him for a significant chunk of last season, and in the summer they added Chicago native Jabari Parker, who was eager to rehabilitate his image after struggling to live up to expectations during his first few seasons in Milwaukee.
However, by the time the trade deadline rolled around, the Bulls were destined for the lottery once again, Parker was on his way out of town, and Lauri Markkanen had missed most of the first half of the season with an elbow injury. Now, with the season quickly winding down, the Bulls will reportedly shut down their prized big man again for the remaining six games, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Charania deleted a tweet that cited sources saying Markannen has undergone tests after “an episode of rapid heart rate and fatigue” on Tuesday and has tested out normal since.
Despite yet another disappointing season, the Bulls still have reason to be hopeful about the future. The front office was able to flip Parker for a talented wing in Otto Porter Jr., and Markkanen will hopefully be cleared by tests and enter next season fully healthy.
The Finnish sensation has barely scratched the surface of what he’s capable of in his two seasons a pro, the most recent of which was marred by injury. In 52 games this season, he averaged 18.7 points and nine rebounds and shot 36.1 percent from three-point range, flashing the offensive brilliance that made him a top-10 pick.
Markkanen is a prototypical forward for the modern NBA, and alongside a core that includes LaVine, Porter, Kris Dunn, and Wendell Carter Jr., the Bulls have a solid foundation to build on for years to come.