Celtics

Lauri Markkanen wants off Bulls; should Celtics pursue forward?

Celtics

If the Bulls honor Lauri Markkanen's wishes, he won't be playing for Chicago this season.

The 24-year-old forward and restricted free agent told Finnish journalist Antti-Jussi Sipilä he's seeking a "fresh start" on another team, as relayed by Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

It's hardly a surprising development, as Markkanen turned down the Bulls' contract extension offer prior to the 2020-21 season and said this May he planned to test the open market this summer.

The No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markkanen has struggled with injuries and inconsistency in Chicago and has missed at least 20 games in three consecutive seasons.

The 7-foot forward has plenty of potential if he can stay healthy, though, and could fit the Boston Celtics' need for a "stretch four" with a strong outside shot. While not a great rebounder for his size (5.3 boards per game last season), Markkanen shot a career-best 40.2% from 3-point range in 2020-21 while averaging 13.6 points per game.

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So, should the Celtics extend an offer sheet to Markkanen in restricted free agency?

If the C's use the standard $9.5 million midlevel exception on Markkanen, they would be "hard capped" and forbidden from exceeding the tax apron at any point during the league year. They'd likely need to sign Markkanen to a multi-year deal, too, which would hamper their ability to pursue a quality free agent next offseason.

 

Markkenen is expected to demand well north of his $9 million qualifying offer on a new deal anyway, and the Charlotte Hornets reportedly have already begun preparing an offer sheet for him. So, unless Boston is very high on Markkanen's fit with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a deal with the Celtics seems like a long shot.