Bulls Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lauri Markkanen's Future, Jim Boylen, MoreMay 19, 2020
The Chicago Bulls are entering a new era. And that's because the organization has undergone major changes since the NBA season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.
Arturas Karnisovas was hired to be the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations, while Marc Eversley was hired to serve as the organization's new general manager. So, after not reaching the playoffs since the 2016-17 season, Chicago has new leadership in place to try to help turn around the franchise.
But there could be more change on the way for the Bulls, including with their head-coaching position and their roster. Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding the upcoming offseason and more for Chicago.
Does Markkanen have a future in Chicago?
This season, Lauri Markkanen's numbers have been a bit down as he tries to bounce back from a 2018-19 season in which he played only 52 games. In 50 contests in 2019-20, the 22-year-old power forward has averaged 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, both career lows.
At the end of this season, the Bulls may have a decision to make regarding Markkanen's long-term future with the organization. As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago recently pointed out, Chicago can sign him to an extension of his rookie contract or retain his rights as a restricted free agent if a qualifying offer is extended to him.
And that should give an indication of whether the Bulls view him as a key part of their team moving forward, as it's possible they could sign him to an extension if they do.
"Given that the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler in part for him, you can bet his representation will be asking for a lot," Johnson wrote. "Given that he regressed through an injury-riddled and usage-challenged season last year, you can bet the new regime will try to sign him to a reasonable contract."
Johnson added that there should be "cordial negotiations," as Markkanen's agent has a strong relationship with Karnisovas and Eversley. But it will be interesting to see if Markkanen's down season has an impact on the Bulls' potential offers to him and where he might be for the next stage of his career.
The latest status on Boylen as Bulls head coach
While the Bulls have made several major changes in their front office, Jim Boylen still remains their head coach. And that may not change if the 2019-20 season is resumed. However, it's still possible that a change will be coming at some point down the line.
"If there’s a resumption of the 2019-20 season for all 30 teams, I think it’s more likely than not he coaches those games," Johnson wrote. "Beyond that, I haven’t seen any belief or reporting, including mine, that suggests Boylen will be the long-term answer for this regime."
Boylen is in only his second season as the Bulls' head coach, but the team has gone 39-84 during his brief tenure. And with the other changes that the organization has made, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bulls let Boylen go and hired another head coach.
However, Johnson wrote that there likely won't be clarity on Boylen's status until it's been decided when the upcoming offseason will begin and the NBA calendar for the near future is set.
Will Chicago have cap space this offseason?
The Bulls' salary-cap situation for the upcoming offseason appears largely contingent on the status of small forward Otto Porter Jr., who holds a $28.5 million player option for the 2020-21 season.
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald recently wrote that there's a "slight chance" the Bulls will have cap space, but he noted the probability of Porter opting in is "between 99 and 100 percent." That could make it difficult for Chicago to address any of its needs through free agency. It doesn't change the fact, however, that the Bulls have some holes on their roster that they'd likely want to fill if possible.
"The Bulls' top need is a veteran player (or two) with winning experience who can be on the court during crunch time," McGraw wrote.
One possibility for Chicago is to wait until the 2021 offseason to make more noteworthy moves, as McGraw noted that it could have $30-40 million in cap space after the contracts of Porter and Cristiano Felicio expire following next season.
By that point, some of the Bulls' young players, such as Zach LaVine and Coby White, may have continued to improve, and with players they've added through the draft in tow, the team will have a better idea of the complementary pieces it might need in order to contend.