Timberwolves Could Add Lauri Markkanen Via Sign-And-Trade Deal With Bulls, Per 'Bleacher Report'

Lauri Markkanen going up against Julius Randle
Gettyimages | Stacy Revere
Basketball

 Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen is one of the young players who are expected to switch teams in the 2021 offseason. After failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension with the Bulls, Markkanen is set to test the free agency market this summer. As a restricted free agent, the only thing that the Bulls need to do to bring him back is to match the offers of other teams for Markkanen in 2021 free agency.

However, with his inconsistent performance in the 2020-21 NBA season, it remains a big question mark if the Bulls are willing to throw away a huge amount of money to keep Markkanen long-term on their roster.

Lauri Markkanen Leaves Chicago For Minnesota

Lauri Markkanen shooting the ball from the perimeter
Gettyimages | Jonathan Daniel

One of the teams that could try to steal Markkanen from the Bulls is the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report came up with a hypothetical sign-and-trade deal that would enable the Timberwolves to land Markkanen this summer. In the proposed sign-and-trade scenario, the Timberwolves would send a package that includes Ricky Rubio, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Bulls in exchange for Markkanen.

Timberwolves Could Create A Potential 'Big Four' In Minnesota

Acquiring Markkanen would be a wise move for the Timberwolves. By just sacrificing an aging point guard and a couple of future second-round picks, they would add a young and promising big man who could join their talented core of Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards.

If Markkanen, Towns, Russell, and Edwards grow together and build good chemistry, the Timberwolves could form a scary "Big Four" in Minnesota.

Lauri Markkanen's On-Court Impact On Timberwolves

Markkanen may have gone through plenty of ups and downs this season, but when he's given enough playing time, he's capable of making a huge impact on both ends of the floor. He would give the Timberwolves a reliable scoring option under the basket, great rebounding, and floor-spacing.

This season, he's averaging 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. Swartz believes that Towns isn't the only one that would benefit from the potential acquisition of Markkanen, but also Russell and Edwards.

"His scoring and floor-spacing ability (14.1 points on 39.1 percent shooting from deep) keeps the driving lanes open for players like Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell, giving them another pick-and-pop target to play off of."

Why The Bulls Would Make The Trade

Ricky Rubio making plays for the Suns
Gettyimages | Pool

The proposed sign-and-trade deal with the Timberwolves should be a no-brainer for the Bulls. Instead of losing Markkanen in free agency without getting anything in return, they would acquire a quality veteran role player in Rubio and two future second-rounders that they could use to add more talented prospects to their roster.

Rubio would be a great addition to the Bulls, giving them a pass-first point guard who could join Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Coby White, and Patrick Williams in their starting lineup next season.

"Rubio ranks in the top-15 this season in assist percentage (34.1 percent) and assists per game (6.5) and has never been one to clog up an offense with his own shots," Swartz wrote. "He would set the table for everyone else on the Bulls roster, allowing players like LaVine, White, Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams to shine."