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RFA Lauri Markkanen says he wants fresh start away from Bulls

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13: Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the game against the Toronto Raptors on May 13, 2021 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Lauri Markkanen reportedly held interest from the Hornets. But Charlotte will instead sign Kelly Oubre with its remaining cap space.

So, Markkanen – a restricted free agent with the Bulls – needs a new source of leverage.

He’ll try his voice.

Markkanen, via Antti-Jussi Sipila of Yle (through Google Translate):

We have offers from several different teams. I want a fresh start to my NBA career somewhere else. Hopefully things will be sorted out quickly with the Bulls and a new direction for my career, Lauri Markkanen told Yle Urheil.

Markkanen has seemed unhappy in Chicago for a while.

But restricted free agents have little control of where they play. The Bulls can match any offer he receives, which can cool the market.

Markkanen could accept his $9,026,852 qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, that’d keep him in Chicago now, though he’d have the right to veto any trades.

A 24-year-old 7-footer who made 40% of his six 3-point attempts per game last season, Markkanen holds plenty of promise however much his defense and health have limited him in his first four seasons.

The Bulls could use another shooter around DeMar DeRozan. The first crack will likely go to Patrick Williams – younger and a better defender (also needed around DeRozan. Why did did Chicago use so much capital to get DeRozan?). Still, Markkanen could fill a role on a team trying to make the playoffs.

He could also return an asset in a sign-and-trade. The Bulls don’t want to surrender that advantage.

So, Markkanen – like many restricted free agents before him – is left agitating through the media, because there’s not much else he can do.