Report: Lauri Markkanen Doesn’t Want To Return To The Bulls, Pelicans Have Interest

There are a few remaining bigger name free agents who haven’t found homes yet as money has dried up around the NBA, headlined by Dennis Schroder but also including Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen.

The sharpshooting big man has never found a consistent role in Chicago, but seemed like a potential “second draft” candidate for a team looking to take a shot on his upside as a stretch big and hoping that in a different situation he can pop. However, the gap between what other teams see as his value and what Markkanen is seeking seems to be fairly wide as he’s yet to find a team that will meet his contract demands. The Hornets had reported interest in the Finnish big man before signing Kelly Oubre instead, leaving him with one fewer option to find a team with cap space.

A new potential suitor that has emerged for Markkanen is the New Orleans Pelicans, per Marc Stein, as they could look to add Markkanen into a traded player exception they hold. Stein also reports that Markkanen does not want to be back in Chicago, but with the Pelicans hoping for draft compensation to facilitate such a move, it remains to be seen if a deal can be worked out that’s amenable for all parties.

The Pelicans wanting a first round pick along with Markkanen makes it seem highly unlikely a deal gets struck at present, but presents a starting point for negotiations at least. The lingering investigation into the Ball sign-and-trade also means the Bulls might be wary of giving up any future picks until they know what the league might take as punishment. For Markkanen, his options seem to be narrowing and finding the deal he hoped to get might be impossible, as a return to Chicago on the qualifying offer might be his best hope to recoup some value and hit unrestricted free agency in 2022.