The Pelicans, Mavericks, Celtics, and Timberwolves are among the teams that have shown interest in Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears from sources that the price tag on the power forward would be about $15MM per year.
Landing Markkanen would be a challenge for any of those teams, however, as they’re all over the cap and would have to acquire the RFA forward via sign-and-trade. New Orleans has a traded player exception big enough to fit Markkanen, but the other teams would likely to have rely on salary-matching or offer him a lower salary (Dallas has a TPE worth $10.872MM, while Boston has one worth $9.72MM). Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade also results in a hard cap, which the Celtics are reportedly resisting.
On top of all that, Fischer confirms a previous report that the Bulls are seeking a first-round pick to accommodate a Markkanen sign-and-trade and don’t want to take on any salary, preferring any contracts to be rerouted to a third team. If they maintain that stance, the Bulls would make it very difficult for Markkanen to do anything but accept his $9MM qualifying offer.
“Chicago is playing this masterfully from no other perspective than a contract management standpoint,” a team capologist told Fischer. “It won’t do any favors relationship-wise, but they’re bleeding his market based on their tax situation, and nobody else can offer him any kind of money without them.”
As we wait to see what happens with Markkanen, it’s worth noting that the Hornets – previously rumored to be eyeing the forward – weren’t listed by Fischer as one of the teams in the hunt, and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told reporters today that the team is likely done with its “heavy lifting” this offseason (Twitter link via Rod Boone of SI.com).
Here’s more from Fischer:
- The Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Celtics, and Knicks were among the teams that expressed interest in DeMar DeRozan before he reached a deal with the Bulls, per Fischer. However, New York agreed to sign Evan Fournier and most of the other teams would’ve had to figure out complicated sign-and-trade arrangements to accommodate DeRozan, who never really entertained the idea of signing for the mid-level exception, sources tell Fischer.
- The Pelicans and Kings discussed the possibility of swapping Buddy Hield and Josh Hart (via sign-and-trade) as part of New Orleans’ trade with Memphis, Fischer writes. It’s unclear if anything along those lines is still being considered now that the Pelicans’ deal with the Grizzlies has been completed — base year compensation rules would complicate a one-for-one swap.
- The Suns are weighing their options for their final open roster spot and have gauged the trade value of 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith, sources tell Fischer.
- The Raptors will meet with Goran Dragic‘s camp at Summer League in Las Vegas to further discuss the point guard’s situation, according to Fischer.
- Zach LaVine has told Bulls staffers he’s committed to improving defensively next season, Fischer says.