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RUMOR: Bulls’ demand to Pelicans in potential Lauri Markkanen sign-and-trade

Lauri Markkanen, Bulls, Pelicans

The Finnish feels finished in Windy City. That’s the story right now for forward Lauri Markkanen, who has clearly expressed his desire to part ways with the Chicago Bulls during a recent interview in Europe.  The New Orleans Pelicans have emerged as a potential landing spot for Markkanen via the sign-and-trade route, though, it remains to be seen whether the Pels are willing to give in to the rumored ask of the Bulls, per Mark Stein of The New York Times.

The Pelicans have expressed interest in Lauri Markkanen and hold a sizable trade exception ($17 million) to take the restricted free agent in on a contract he seeks, sources say. The Bulls, though, are said to want a first-round pick to facilitate.

More from Stein:

Markkanen says he does not want to return to Chicago but has yet to manufacture a better option than one last season as a Bull to gain unrestricted free agency. The Bulls and Pels also still haven’t completed their Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade which is now under NBA investigation.

Markkanen had sort of a bounce-back season in the 2020-21 NBA campaign despite missing 20 games before the All-Star break, but that’s obviously not helped his view of the team nor the Bulls’ perspective of him get any significantly better. At present, Markkanen is a restricted free agent, so any offer he gets from a team interested in adding a floor-spacing biggie can still be matched by the Bulls. 

But again, the Bulls seem to no longer have the appetite to keep Markkanen, who averaged 13.6 points on 48.0 percent shooting from the field and 40.2 percent from behind the arc last season.