It was a furiously fast NBA Free Agency first week, but after nearly all of the non-minimum guys are now signed and cap space has dried up around the league, deals have slowed down considerably.
This is bad news for Lauri Markkanen, who is still there as a restricted free agent.
There haven’t been a lot of rumors regarding Lauri. Last week the man himself spoke to the media in Finland and claimed that he wanted a new team with a bigger role and that he was not at all interested in playing the qualifying offer of ‘a year of about $ 9 million. While the Bulls have a remaining roster hole in the frontcourt, it’s not a starting position or a good fit on the court. Additionally, if Lauri played under the QO, he couldn’t be traded next year without his new team losing Bird Rights to re-signing him next summer.
Lauri insisted there were multiple offers for him, but as we know they weren’t as straightforward as a cap space team signing him outright as an unrestricted free agent. Any offer has to involve the Bulls: be it one of the few remaining ceiling space teams (just OKC?) – and trade with Lauri’s future team.
AKME’s free agency work so far has informed us that the Bulls are no longer crippled by a lack of creativity, skill and ambition when it comes to making deals without the convenience of ceiling space. I was quite encouraged that, while the old regime would have said to Lauri ‘go get an offer and crawl’, this new one wants to win basketball games more than negotiations, and in fact has the means to create. advantageous situations for the player and the team which only helps the later movements when considering the relationship that the teams have with the agents.
Now I am less sure. Although the following is from BleacherReport’s Jake Fisher which I consider a few levels below the most notorious rumors:
Dallas, New Orleans, Boston and Minnesota have all expressed interest in signing deals with Markkanen averaging around $ 15 million annually, sources say, but the Bulls are looking for a first-round pick. in exchange for help to facilitate the transaction. Additionally, Chicago executives are asking Markkanen’s new team to find a third business partner to support the outgoing salary needed to create space for Markkanen’s contract.
For a third team to take over unwanted salary, this hypothetical front office would also ask for a selection allowance. So any team that wants to add Markkanen now should send a first round pick to Chicago and possibly another first or two second rounds elsewhere. It’s a clear obstacle that the Bulls seem to have intentionally created.
“Chicago is playing this masterfully from a contract management perspective,” said a team capologue. “It won’t do a relationship service, but they are bleeding their market because of their tax situation, and no one else can offer them money without them.”
Again, “a capologue on a team” speaking to Bleacher Report isn’t the best source, but the above sounds like cheap old-school Bulls nonsense. This has been somewhat confirmed by a person very familiar with such things, KC Johnson:
One thing that becomes clear in Markkanen’s situation is that with the drying up of ceiling space, the Bulls can be picky / picky about S&T ideas. Draft picks. No long term money.
I’m all for the Bulls trying to mine for value here, but it gives me chills when such a value is under “no long term money”. The Bulls are well below (> $ 12 million) the tax for this year, so any mention of it and the phrase “long term” means they are already planning ahead for. next potential summer bill after a Zach LaVine raise?
The capping machinations for a Lauri signing and swapping are a bit more complex due to the base year pay, which is a somewhat obscure rule, but I find it helpful to understand it to know The motivation behind it: Essentially, it’s about preventing teams from signing low-paid guys to trade ball contracts just to trade them for a very expensive player. Thus, for salary matching purposes, the definition of the outgoing salary contract is reduced by half.
(This rule was used in Daniel Theis’ trade with the Rockets last week, where his new contract was $ 8 million with Houston and it was acquired with a traded player exception, but the Bulls only received that half of that for the TPE they generated in So why they couldn’t use it to acquire Alex Caruso, it was only $ 4 million)
If Lauri has offers of $ 15 million, that means the Bulls’ outgoing salary would be $ 7.5 million and should match that of the incoming salary. It gets complex and pretty much involves a third team and / or VSEs involved, and a brief overview indicates that while the suitors mentioned by Fischer all have fairly large VSEs, only New Orleans – that Marc Stein (upper tier rumored!) said interested in – has one at $ 15 million.
It’s true that the Bulls are the ones in the enviable position here. Maybe they could pack Lauri with more salary and outgoing assets to get another top player. If you aim lower, you could in return get a player who, although overpaid, would not be “dead money” and would occupy an important salary position for a potential future move. Or they could be paid for a draft to take on someone more dead. It would also help Lauri and be part of the “relationship building” that we see with other moves the Bulls made in the AKME era, even though Lauri is not part of a top agency (for the least we can say: he is their only non-marginal NBA client).
They are good options. Hope this isn’t where the Bulls “create a roadblock” where they both “demand” compensation and not to take a salary. This will severely limit the options.