Lauri Markkanen Drawing Interest From Celtics, Mavs, Others

The Celtics, Maverickas, Pelicans and Timberwolves are among those expressing interest in Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.Lauri Markannen

Markannen is seeking a deal in the range of $15 million per year, Fischer reported a source as saying.

Markkanen is a restricted free agent, meaning the Bulls could simply match any offer and keep him. But he recently told French journalist Antti-Jussi Sipila that he would like a “fresh start” and to move on from Chicago, as relayed by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“We have offers from several different teams,” Markannen told Sipila. “I want a fresh start to my NBA career somewhere else.”

He has also been linked to the Hornets, Spurs and Thunder. Still, a return to Chicago might make the most sense financially.

“With cap room drying up across the league, there are few teams left that could realistically sign the 24-year-old outright to an offer sheet that exceeds the Bulls’ qualifying offer or the full mid-level exception ($9.5MM),” wrote Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors.

Plus, the Bulls could be seeking a first-round pick in any sort sign-and-trade arragement, Fischer confirmed, perhaps giving rival teams pause.

“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.”

Markkanen, 24, is 7-foot-0 and averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 51 games last season. He also shot a career-high 48 percent from the floor.

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