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Rumor: Bulls open to Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade, with 3 teams on radar

Lauri Markkanen Bulls free agency

The Chicago Bulls are looking to retool their roster around Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, and that could involve moving restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen in a sign-and-trade deal. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports the Bulls are “open” to such a move, with the Minnesota Timberwolves named as a team to watch in these sweepstakes due to their desire to upgrade at power forward.

The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are two other teams with interest in Markkanen. The Spurs and Thunder are both set to have a good amount of cap space, so they might not necessarily need to work out a sign-and-trade, but the Bulls would surely love to get something in return for the young big man.

Markkanen has been a disappointment in Chicago after he was one of the key pieces in the Jimmy Butler trade. While he just had his best shooting season in 2020-21 (over 40%), Markkanen saw his role reduced after trades for Vucevic and Daniel Theis beefed up the frontcourt.

It’s not clear if Theis will be back given his own status as a free agent, but the Bulls do have Thaddeus Young on the roster (for now) as well and youngster Patrick Williams can play power forward. Chicago also is set to bring over 2020 second-round pick Marko Simonovic, who could be a cheaper version of Markkanen as a stretch big man.

Markkanen is hoping to get a bigger role again, and that just likely isn’t happening in Chicago. The Bulls could still decide to match an offer sheet if they want to keep him around, but it’s looking like he’ll be elsewhere.