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Report: Hornets emerge as potential team to offer sheet Lauri Markkanen

Power forward is a restricted free agent and could leave Chicago this season.

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center on May 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 118-112.  Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Veteran power forward Lauri Markkanen could end up signing an offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets, Shams Charania reported on Thursday afternoon. Markkanen officially became a restricted free agent after the Chicago Bulls extended him a qualifying offer on July 30.

The Hornets and Bulls could work out a sign-and-trade involving Markkanen. The Bulls made a similar move earlier in the offseason when they acquired PG Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Hornets pulled off a sign-and-trade to send RFA PG Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans. We’ll see if the Bulls can get a few assets back for Markkanen, but it’s clear he isn’t in Chicago’s future plans.

The seven-footer from Finland has shown glimpses of promise as an up-and-coming stretch forward with the Bulls throughout the first four years of his NBA career, breaking out during his sophomore campaign by averaging 18.7 points and nine rebounds a game. However, his role and minutes diminished over the next two years with the presence of fellow big man Wendell Carter Jr. and Nikola Vucevic, whom the team traded for this past March. He primarily came off the bench for the remainder of the season, finishing with a career low in points (13.6), rebounds (5.3), and minutes per game (25.8).

Markkanen has asserted his confidence in being a starting forward in the league and will now have the opportunity to prove that.