With the Chicago Bulls dealing with multiple challenges — including a losing record and rumors that the team might be making some changes to its top brass — a recent report has suggested that third-year forward Lauri Markkanen was among the players dissatisfied with the team’s direction before the NBA went on hiatus last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As reported earlier this week by Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Markkanen was the “quiet storm” brewing behind the scenes amid the Bulls’ struggles this season — a contrast to teammate Denzel Valentine, who was far more open to the press about his unhappiness with the Bulls and their coaching staff. But while Markkanen chose to keep a low profile regarding his supposed frustration with his role on the team and the offensive schemes favored by head coach Jim Boylen, Cowley stressed that the Finnish big man was “one unhappy camper” before the 2019-20 season was suspended.
“[Markkanen was] unhappy enough that if the direction of the organization was going to stay unchanged, he’d rather be elsewhere,” he added.
An All-Rookie selection in the 2017-18 campaign after being picked seventh overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markkanen has seen his stats take a hit in his third NBA season. According to his Basketball-Reference page, the former Arizona Wildcats star has posted averages of 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, and shooting percentages of 42.5 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three-point range in 50 games this season. The year prior, he averaged 18.7 points, nine rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.
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In his report for the Chicago Sun-Times, Cowley did not mention any specific trade rumors or ideas that involve Markkanen. However, he noted that the Bulls were, as of last month, closely monitoring two Miami Heat players — veteran point guard Goran Dragic and small forward Derrick Jones Jr. — as potential offseason acquisitions. This, however, may largely depend on whom the Bulls may hire to replace general manager Gar Forman and/or vice president of basketball operations John Paxson. Both executives are rumored to be on their way out of Chicago as the team undergoes a “complete” organizational restructure.
“Markkanen could be one such piece to be packaged, especially if they deem his unhappiness beyond repair. That doesn’t seem to be the case, but that will still have to be explored.”
Weeks before the new update, Cowley also suggested that the Bulls should consider trading Markkanen or star shooting guard Zach LaVine for an “athletic, talented wing player” in the 2020 offseason.