Lauri Markkanen reportedly wants to see the Chicago Bulls make a whole lot of changes, or he wants to play elsewhere. The 22-year-old power forward has spent the first three years of his career with the Bulls but is clearly fed up with the direction of the franchise. Many of his teammates seem to agree with him.
Joe Cowley had the following report for the Chicago Sun-Times:
"And then there was the quiet storm, privately churning in the corner since early on in the season, keeping his frustrations as off-the-record one-liners, discrediting the direction of the offense, his role in it, and the highly embraced shot profile that Bulls analytics was stressing. Make no mistake about it, third-year big man Lauri Markkanen was one unhappy camper before the coronavirus put the NBA on hiatus. Unhappy enough that if the direction of the organization was going to stay unchanged, he’d rather be elsewhere."
That's really bad news because Markkanen can play and plenty of NBA teams would love to have him. The seventh pick of the 2017 NBA Draft seemed to be developing well in Chicago and he averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game last season. But during the 2019-20 campaign, his game took a step back. Before the coronavirus shutdown he was averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game. His percentage from 3-point range had dropped from 36.1 percent during the 2018-19 season to 34.4 percent this season, and his field goal percentage has dropped each year of his career.
Markkanen is a skilled big man who can shoot it, but something isn't working with the Bulls.
Chicago is set to move on from the Gar Forman/John Paxson duo running the front office. While that is a step in the right direction, whoever replaces them will have to make substantial changes. Head coach Jim Boylen is a problem and likely needs to be fired. The team has already mutinied against him and Denzel Valentine hasn't been shy in his criticism of the coach.
Given the issues with Boylen and the terrible leadership and decision-making that has come from the Bulls' front office over the years, it's not shocking players want out. Markkanen is a difference-maker. Along with Zach LaVine and Coby White, he could help from a really nice core for the future. The Bulls need to do what it takes to keep him happy.