Markkanen says he's pushing for contract extension with Bulls

  • The Bulls' Lauri Markkanen said Monday his preference is to stay with the Bulls long term.

    The Bulls' Lauri Markkanen said Monday his preference is to stay with the Bulls long term. Associated Press

Updated 12/1/2020 1:18 PM

Lauri Markkanen has until the day before the regular season begins to sign a contract extension with the Bulls. Otherwise, he'll become a restricted free agent next summer.

Asked about the negotiations Monday, Markkanen made no secret of his preference.


"Hopefully they can come to an agreement," Markkanen said on a Zoom call with reporters. "I can't say how likely that is and stuff like that. Like I've said before, I really want to be here for a long term, so I'm putting some pressure on my agent (Boris Lelchitski) to get it done."

One reason an extension might not get done is Markkanen regressed in his third NBA season. In 2018-'19, he averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds. Last year, he dropped to 14.7 points and 6.3 boards. So what should the Bulls expect from him in the future?

"Obviously, I see the other guys getting (extensions), I'm not worried about that," he said. "I'm going into the season with high expectations no matter what happened last year, and I'm just really motivated to get out there and perform at a high level."

Markkanen was chosen with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft. A few players from that draft class have signed maximum extensions already, including Boston's Jayson Tatum, Sacramento's De'Andre Fox, Utah's Donovan Mitchell and Miami's Bam Adebayo.

After the way last season went, it's hard to imagine the Bulls offering a max deal to Markkanen right now. The 7-foot forward from Finland said he's trying not to worry about it.

"Just control what I can control," he said. "I'm going in every day just working as hard as I can, and just be aggressive on the floor and doing what I can do to make the team better. I'll let my agent and the front office work on the contract side. So I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried about what's going on the floor."

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