Charlotte Hornets reportedly have interest in signing Lauri Markkanen

Chicago Bulls Lauri Markkanen. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls Lauri Markkanen. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

With free agency in full swing, the Charlotte Hornets have not made a lot of moves so far. Charlotte has traded Devonte’ Graham to the New Orleans Pelicans and signed veteran point guard Ish Smith. On Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Hornets have emerged with a strong interest in a potential offer sheet for Chicago Bulls power forward, Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen is entering his fifth year after being plagued with minor injuries over the past few seasons. Last season, Markkanen averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Markkanen’s points and rebounds per game trended down, but his shooting percentages dramatically climbed.

As a length player in the frontcourt, Markkanen managed to shoot 48% from the floor and 40% from deep. His minutes per game also went down, but this was due to the emergence of Thaddeus Young. During the past four seasons, Markkanen has averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Chicago Bulls. Markkanen has started in 195 of the 221 games that he’s played in during his career.

Markkanen has spent most of his career playing power forward, but at 7 feet tall, Charlotte could look at sliding him to center. He could also prove to be a nice option off the bench. The Hornets would need to address Markkanen’s ability to defend since this has not been one of his strongest skill sets. Past injuries may also play a factor in signing him, but Markkanen’s ability to shoot from anywhere on the court could be what excite the Hornets the most.

With the Hornets’ interest in Markkanen, Charlotte could be trying to put together a deal that includes a player and draft picks. Since Markkanen is a restricted free agent, there’s a chance this would have to be done in a sign-and-trade deal as Chicago could try and match any offer Charlotte made.

Markkanen was going to end up on the San Antonio Spurs when the Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan. However, Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective reported that the Spurs were not willing to pay Markkanen his desired contract.

The Hornets likely have enough cap space to fit Markkanen on the roster, but it’s still unclear what Charlotte is willing to give up for the young forward.

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