Bulls news: Lauri Markkanen reveals feelings about staying in Chicago after rumored unhappiness
Lauri Markkanen withstood a tough stretch during his third season in the league, as his numbers took a considerable dip in 2019-20 under new coach Jim Boylen. Rumors about his disenchantment with the Chicago Bulls were quick to flood the airwaves.
However, the rangy 7-footer still has one year left on his rookie deal before he becomes a restricted free agent. Odds that he’ll sign a long-term deal to remain a Bull have declined amid an impending lowered salary cap due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet the third-year forward remains hopeful to stay the team:
“I want to stay in Chicago and sign an extension, no question,” said Markkanen as a guest of Finnish podcast Urheilucast. “I love this city.”
The recently-turned 22-year-old has seen his usage greatly decline in his first full year under Boylen — and his numbers have tumbled along with it.
He’s averaging a career-worst in points (14.7), rebounds (6.3), and blocks (0.5) as well as field-goal percentage (42.5%), 3-point field goal percentage (34.4), and free-throw shooting (82.4%).
Markkanen is being used as a standstill shooter in Boylen’s system, and that has taken away from other aspects of his game that had started to bloom in his second season.
While Markkanen could help himself by becoming a better ball-handler and driver of the ball, the adjustment hasn’t been easy for the Arizona product, who has been inconsistent for the bulk of the season.
The Finnish native has also battled recent injuries, playing only 50 of the team’s 65 games this season after playing in only 52 in 2018-19 due to a heart condition.