Lauri Markkanen wants to start, have an expanded role, and show what he can do next season.
That’s not likely to happen in Chicago, where All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic will get the bulk of the touches and opportunities. It has led to speculation around the league that Markkanen may have played his last game as a Bull, and he has said he wants to see what is out there.
Markkanen would like to end up in Dallas, although that seems a long shot, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The one place he privately wants to land is with the Mavericks, joining guard Luka Doncic and big man Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks will have serious cap room this offseason and were in the middle of the pack in three-point shooting, but Markkanen and Porzingis might be too similar in terms of their skills for that to happen.
So which other team might be interested in Markkanen? Keep an eye on the Knicks, who will have the most cap room of any team and can use more shooting.
Cowley hits on why the Mavs are a longshot — they already have an overlapping player in Porzingis (who is better than Markkanen when healthy).
The Knicks will pop up on every free agent’s list this offseason because of their cap space, but Markkanen doesn’t seem a fit there, either. Julius Randle is their four, and a Randle and Markkanen frontcourt doesn’t scream “good Tom Thibodeau defense.”
It will be interesting to see what the market for Markkanen will be this offseason. He averaged a career-low 13.6 points a game this past season but did shoot 40.2% from 3 — he has value as a stretch four. However, Markkanen is not a strong defender nor a physical presence in the paint. He’s shown stretches of being a good scoring big man who can stretch the floor, but consistency has been an issue.
Chicago executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas — the guy with the hammer for the Bulls — has talked up Markkanen and hinted he would like to keep the Finnish star, but the buzz from sources around the league is the Bulls are not going to match any serious offer (Markkanen is a restricted free agent). The question is, what team will make that offer?