Chicago Bulls: Here is what the future could look like for Lauri Markkanen

The Chicago Bulls‘ most recent free agency move included a second sign-and-trade by giving Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu, along with a 2025 first-round pick and two second-round picks, for four-time all-star DeMar DeRozan. With the Bulls getting away from the trade without including Lauri Markkanen, where does he stand with the team now?

The front office duo of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley did their best impression of Seby Zavala (or Rafael Ortega, depending on your Chicago baseball preferences) by hitting three home runs in the same game. They acquired Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and now DeRozan.

At the start of this whole thing, it seemed extremely likely that Markkanen would be traded away in a sign-and-trade to get back value for his departure.

First, he wasn’t included in the Ball sign-and-trade. This made sense because the Pelicans already rejected this offer back at the trade deadline. Then, he was shockingly unincluded in the trade for DeRozan.

What happens now for the Chicago Bulls’ Finnish 7-footer?

There are about three options the Bulls can do with their young big man going into his first contract year.

#1. Sign-and-trade Markkanen

To me, this still seems like the most likely option.

While Markkanen has not yet been included in any trades from the Bulls, it’s clearly an advantage for the Bulls to have him as a potential trade piece to keep enhancing the frontcourt.

While the Spurs are no longer a potential suitor, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, and Oklahoma City Thunder are seemingly still interested based on some research.

It’s undetermined what the Bulls could get back for Markkanen in a possible trade. Even so, there’s no point at guessing either, seeing as how unpredictable AKME is this offseason.

#2. Offer him a new contract, or let him accept his qualifying offer

The Bulls extended a qualifying offer to Markkanen, which would give him a salary of around $9 million for next year, but a $20 million cap hit to the Bulls.

According to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago, “with a slew of roster spots left to fill, the Bulls still have restricted rights on free agent Lauri Markkanen, who could be retained or signed-and-traded himself.”

Through a new contract, Markkanen could make his way back to the Bulls. The Bulls could use the help in the frontcourt, but it’s certainly unknown if they are committed to him, especially off the bench, where he struggled heavily when he was benched for Young midway through last season.

#3. Let him walk in free agency

Of course, the Bulls could always let Markkanen walk in free agency and decline to match any offer sheet he receives.

This move would help the Bulls save money and allow them to pursue other options in the frontcourt.

However, this move is unideal in the fact that the Bulls wouldn’t get any value back for their initial investment in Markkanen. The only benefit they would receive is saving the money they wouldn’t have to pay for him to stay.

Since AKME seems to be the masters of pulling off sign-and-trades this offseason, it would be best if they were able to pull off their third trade of this period.