Last Word On Basketball

Lauri Markkanen Expected to Test Free Agent Market

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball against the Toronto Raptors during the Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls NBA regular season game at Scotiabank Arena on December 30, 2018 in Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors won 95-89) (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls acquired Lauri Markkanen as part of a draft-night trade back in 2017. His first two seasons in the league were solid from a production standpoint. Now, there’s a possibility he may take his talents elsewhere.

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen expected to test the free-agent market this offseason.

In his rookie season, Markkanen posted averages of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. He also shot 36.2% from the 3-point line. He followed that up with per-game averages of 18.7 points and nine rebounds per outing in his second season.

Year three proved to be a different story, however, as his production dipped to 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Not only that, but his efficiency numbers (42.5% overall and 34.4% from three) took a noticeable dip as well.

The Bulls and Markannen failed to reach an agreement on an extension prior to the start of the season, which was somewhat expected. With a new look to the front office and a different coaching staff, Markannen was hoping to prove his worth. Early on, Markkanen betting on himself looked like a smart move. He posted a pair of 20-point outings in the team’s first four games of the season. And he averaged 21.3 points per contest in January. But after missing several weeks with an injury, combined with a mid-season trade that reduced his playing time, Markkanen struggled as he averaged less than 15 points per contest over the final three months of the season.

Markkanen can still produce.

On the plus side, the Bulls forward shot career-bests 48% from the field and 40.2% from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Markkanen also produced career lows in scoring (13.6 points per game) and rebounds (5.3).

Taking those numbers into consideration, will the Bulls and Markkanen part ways in the offseason?

“I mean, I’m happy with some of the things I did this year,” Markkanen said via NBC Sports Chicago. Obviously, team-wise we’re disappointed we’re not playing. One of my goals was to shoot 40 percent from three. And I did that. But I know I can do a lot more. I’m excited about what the business side is going to bring this year. I’m taking a little bit of my mind off basketball right now. We’ll see what happens.”

The front office has stated that Markkanen is an important part of what team hopes to accomplish going forward. Additionally, since he is a restricted free agent, the Bulls can match any offer Markkanen receives.

On the heels of a season in which he knocked down 40% of his attempts from deep, Markkanen should draw some attention from other NBA teams. One of those teams being the Boston Celtics, who are reportedly in the market for a big that can space the floor.

It will be interesting to see how much the Bulls are willing to pay to retain his services.

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