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Rumor: The likelier trade chip between Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young

Bulls, Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young

The Chicago Bulls might do some repositioning ahead of next Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but they are unlikely to be outright sellers.

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young has garnered plenty of interest around the league. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is just the latest to report Chicago will likely retain Young through the deadline, as he has been a vital part of the team’s playoff push.

Windhorst added the Bulls could choose to trade forward Lauri Markkanen, should they decide to make a move:

The Chicago Bulls have drawn interest in versatile forward Thaddeus Young, sources said. But the Bulls, like the Kings, are on the playoff bubble and aren’t anxious to be sellers even though they’re under .500. They might be willing to make a deal involving another power forward, free agent-to-be Lauri Markkanen, but Young will likely be staying in Chicago.

It is no surprise contending teams could be after Young, just as it is no surprise the Bulls are hoping to keep him.

Young is the ideal trade asset. His contract is only partially guaranteed for next season. Moreover, he has been terrific as a forward capable of facilitating for his teammates and using his court vision and rub screens to create angles and find the open man.

But Young has been the second-best player on Chicago’s roster. The Bulls are just 1.5 games back of the eighth spot and well within the play-in range, and — given the playoff drought and Zach LaVine’s 2022 free agency coming up — are unlikely to deal such a crucial component of the team’s success.

Markkanen is the more realistic trade chip. The former first-round pick will be a restricted free agent this offseason, with the two sides failing to reach an agreement on a possible extension.

The 23-year-old is averaging 18.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, but is a poor defender with an injury history. Still, his skill set as a stretch 4 (shooting over 40 percent from deep) could make him attractive to teams.