Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen sounds off on losing starting spot after Nikola Vucevic trade
The Chicago Bulls landed perhaps the biggest piece at the NBA trade deadline when they acquired two time All-Star Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic. The move was made to pair one All-Star with another, as Vucevic was moved to team up with Zach LaVine. It signaled that the Bulls were buying and not selling at the trade deadline, and the hope in Chicago is that LaVine and Vucevic are enough to build around.
With the acquisition comes someone who is left on the outside looking in. When a trade is made for someone of Vucevic’s caliber, someone is going to be demoted to coming off the bench because Vucevic is beyond a proven player. For Chicago, Lauri Markkanen was the odd man out, but he still believes he should be a starter:
Markkanen: I know I'm a starter in this league. Coach has a lot to handle. Disappointing personally but I'm not going to do anything but support the team. I've never questioned anything Billy has done. https://t.co/6wJI6ubTFR
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 30, 2021
Markkanen covered all his bases. He expressed the disappoint, instilled the confidence in himself and noted that he’s a team guy who isn’t going to question Billy Donovan’s decision. Donovan first actually kept Markkanen in the starting lineup after the trade, sending Thaddeus Young to the bench. But after the Bulls’ starters got smoked by the San Antonio Spurs, Donovan decided to put Young back into the starting lineup to pair with Vucevic for better balance against the Golden State Warriors.
Chicago still lost, 116-102, but the starting group showed a bit more promise. The hope is Markkanen and another newcomer in Daniel Theis will build some chemistry on the second unit.
In 25 games this season, Markkanen is averaging 17.2 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds on 39.1% shooting from 3-point range. He’s set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
In 44 games with Orlando, Vucevic was averaging 24.5 points per pop along with 11.8 rebounds. The Bulls hope it’s enough to catapult them this year and moving forward in the Eastern Conference, but they’re currently on a four-game losing streak to sit at 19-26 and in 10th place.