This is a critical season for the Chicago Bulls 23-year-old power forward Lauri Markkanen to get things right in the final year of his rookie contract.
The way that the Chicago Bulls former Arizona Wildcats seven-footer and 23-year-old fourth-year power forward Lauri Markkanen played last season did anything but inspire confidence heading into the final year of his rookie contract. Markkanen reasonably had his worst season in the NBA so far in his short career.
And that down season really came at the worst time for Markkanen. The time for him to get serious in contract extension talks were earlier this month, just ahead of tip off of the 2020-21 regular season slate. But the Bulls and Markkanen were not able to reach an agreement for a contract extension heading into this 2020-21 campaign.
Markkanen will wind up getting a qualifying offer around $9 million before he heads into the restricted free agent market next offseason. Newly hired executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas could still very well bring Markkanen back for the 2021-22 season, but the “Finnisher” will need to prove himself this season.
No matter what, this season needs to be the one where Markkanen makes some big strides and starts living up to some of the hype he came out of college with more than three years ago. He’s shown flashes here and there, but a combination of lack of confidence, poor usage, and injury issues hampered his development so far.
Are Karnisovas and first-year head coach Billy Donovan the right fit to move Markkanen’s career forward during the 2020-21 season?
Here’s a look into three bold predictions for Markkanen as he enters his fourth year in the NBA with the Bulls.