The Chicago Bulls currently find themselves in a downwards spiral as the team seeks to establish the right direction for the franchise. Moreover, they might need to make changes rather quickly with rising star Lauri Markkanen growing impatient. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Markkanen is reportedly 'not happy' in Chicago. If the Bulls don’t change the direction of the organization, the former number 7 overall pick will likely seek a change of scenery from the Windy City.
Markkanen was able to produce promising rookie and sophomore campaigns with the Bulls. In his rookie season, he averaged 15.2 PPG and 7.5 RPG. He turned up those numbers to 18.7 PPG and 9.0 RPG in his sophomore year. However, in his third season, those stats dropped to 14.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG. As a promising prospect, Markkanen does want to be on a competing squad rather than play for a losing team for the third year in a row. The Bulls had high expectations to make a postseason in run in 2019-20. Nonetheless, they have not progressed at all this season and are likely headed towards another high lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
With all of that being said, let's take a look at three "Win-Win" Trades the Bulls can make to get rid of Markkanen's contract and to speed up the rebuild in the Windy City.
1. Bulls Receive: Kevin Knox, 2020 1st Round Pick (Clippers) and 2020 2nd Round Pick (Charlotte)
Knicks Receive: Lauri Markkanen
Analysis: The Knicks did want to Draft Markkanen three years ago, but the T-Wolves Drafted Markkanen 1 pick earlier and traded him to the Bulls. It’s no longer Phil Jackson running things, it’s now Leon Rose, but if he likes Markkanen as well, this Trade could go down. The Knicks personal 1st Round selection may be as high as #1, so it will be too valuable to give up, but the Knicks also received the Clipper's 1st Rounder from trading Marcus Morris. That pick could be too low for the Bulls. Instead, Chicago gets a high 2nd Round pick from Charlotte that makes the Trade work. This would make a young core for the Knicks consisting of: R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, and Markkanen. Markkanen would be effective in Dribble Handoffs, Pick and pop, attacking the Post, and shooting from the wing. His effective shooting will open the lane for Mitchell Robinson. The Bulls take back Kevin Knox, not because he has any trade value, but he does have a little bit of hope. Knox has 1 more year on his contract, so he might fit better as a Bull with the expiring contract.
2. Bulls Receive: Trey Lyles, 2021 1st Round pick (Spurs) 2020 2nd Round Pick (Spurs)
Spurs Receive: Lauri Markkanen
Analysis: The Spurs WILL NOT Trade their highest Draft pick (2020 1st) under any circumstances, but would Trade their 2021 1st because the Spurs are betting this season won’t be as bad as next season. The Bulls are betting that 2021 1st round pick will be worse than 2020, so there is a chance the 2021 1st becomes a Lottery Pick. The 2020 2nd will be high this year, so it guarantees that the Bulls get some valuable asset back. For the Spurs, Markkanen would be the succession plan for when LaMarcus Aldridge retires. Good things happened when Aldridge stepped out onto the 3 Point Line, and Markkanen should have no problem taking 3’s. Markkanen made at least 65% of his shots near the Rim in his first 3 years.
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3. Bulls Receive: Jaxson Hayes, 2020 1st Round pick (Pelicans) 2020 2nd Round Pick (Pelicans)
Pelicans Receive: Lauri Markkanen
Analysis: The Pelicans 2020 1st is the highest Draft pick that the Bulls will get by trading Markkanen. The pick will be inside the Lottery. The Pels are willing to let the pick go because (A) It’s not a deep Draft, or (B) They already have a ton of picks moving forward. The Bulls also net Jaxson Hayes, who has already proven to be a young, talented Center on any team. At his best, Markkanen is a perfect fit for the Pelicans, because he stretches the floor effectively, which does let Zion Williamson do his thing in the paint, and Markkanen can create his own shot and also rebounds well when he isn't in a slump. I also think Lauri’s shooting will improve will all of the playmakers around him. Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and others can get Markkanen the ball in space beyond the 3 Point line, which will ease up the pressure on Markkanen in New Orleans.