Lauri Markkanen Trade Rumors: Bulls Fielding Calls on PF After Vucevic Trade

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 19, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls reportedly are "fielding calls" for forward Lauri Markkanen ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. 

The Bulls already made one major trade Thursday with the acquisition of Nikola Vucevic in a deal with the Orlando Magic, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The organization will also receive Al-Farouq Aminu in exchange for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks.

Markkanen is currently averaging 17.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season, and his 39.0 three-point percentage would be the best of his four-year NBA career.

The 23-year-old will be a restricted free agent in the offseason as the two sides have been unable to agree to an extension.

Assuming Aminu picks up his player option, the Bulls already added about $27.3 million to the 2021-22 payroll Thursday, via Bobby Marks of ESPN. This could make it more difficult for Chicago to retain the 2017 lottery pick.

With Vucevic's ability to shoot from deep (40.6 percent this season), the Bulls don't necessarily need another stretch big man on the roster.

Markkanen has showcased his upside since entering the NBA, making the All-Rookie first-team in 2017-18 while averaging at least 14 points in each of his four years. He scored at least 30 points in back-to-back games earlier this year to prove he can carry a team offensively for stretches at a time.

There are still question marks about his all-around production with inconsistent play on the defensive end of the court.

Injuries are also an issue after averaging just 56.7 games played during his first three seasons and missing 15 games during a shortened season last year. A shoulder issue kept him out for about a month this year before returning in March.

Chicago appears ready to move on and build around Zach LaVine, Vucevic and Patrick Williams.