The Chicago Bulls have missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. With that being said, it would have been reasonable to wonder what the team would do during the offseason if anything at all. On the heels of missing the postseason once again, the front office has been very active. For starters, the Bulls acquired Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan via sign-and-trade deals. They also acquired former Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso. However, they also chose to move on from young talent in Lauri Markkanen.
The Chicago Bulls Parting Ways With Lauri Markkanen is a Win-Win for Both Sides
While those moves raised a few eyebrows, the Bulls weren’t done. They also chose to part ways with Lauri Markkanen as well.
Cleveland is acquiring Chicago restricted free agent F Lauri Markkanen on a four-year, $67M deal in a sign-and-trade, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2021
Bulls and Markkanen Were a Good Match…Initially
The Bulls acquired the rights to Markkanen via a draft-night trade back in 2017. During his rookie campaign, Markkanen averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. He followed that up with per-game averages of 18.7 points and nine rebounds.
Based on that production, the Bulls and Markkanen seemed to be a good match. Unfortunately, his production took a noticeable dip the following seasons. In 2019-20, Markkanen compiled averages of 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. And during the first year with Billy Donovan in the head coach seat, Markkanen posted career lows of 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.
The Chicago Bulls Made the Right Decision to Part Way with Markkanen
So did the Bulls make the right move? Absolutely. To be fair, Markkanen did play for three different head coaches during his four years in the Windy City. But the fact that his product tailed off over the past two seasons, may have factored into the team’s decision to move him.
Secondly, the Bulls and Markkanen were no longer a good fit following last year’s trade in which they acquired Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic. And in 26 games with Chicago, Vucevic averaged 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. With Vucevic in the rotation, Markkanen’s role was noticeably reduced.
The above reasons stand on their own merit. However, Markkanen also stated that he wanted a fresh start with a different NBA team.
Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen tells Finnish journalist @AJ_Sipila he wants out of Chicago: “We have offers from several different teams. I want a fresh start to my NBA career somewhere else.”
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 6, 2021
Sure, Markkanen is a legitimate floor spacer. After all, he did shoot 48 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point range. On the other hand, the Bulls were wise to move on from a player that wasn’t happy with his role and wanted a fresh start somewhere else.
Embed from Getty Images