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Bulls Trade Rumors: Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. Draw Interest from Teams

Bulls Trade Rumors: Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. Draw Interest from Teams

Cleveland Cavaliers' Andre Drummond (3) and Chicago Bulls' Wendell Carter Jr. (34) and Lauri Markkanen (24) vie for a rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Paul Beaty/Associated Press

Multiple NBA teams have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring talented young bigs Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. from the Chicago Bulls.

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, an NBA scout said there is a “handful of teams actively zeroing in” on multiple Bulls players, including Markkanen and Carter.

Markkanen has completed three seasons with the Bulls since he was selected seventh overall in the 2017 NBA draft, while Carter was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft and is now two years into his career.

Per Cowley, a source close to the Bulls said the team “hasn’t even crossed the trade bridge” since new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is still doing his due diligence with regard to the roster.

Markkanen and Carter could be trade candidates when the dust settles, though, as both were reportedly unhappy with how head coach Jim Boylen utilized them this season.

Cowley noted that Markkanen didn’t like his role and Carter wanted to play more power forward than center after becoming an “afterthought” in the offense.

Markkanen was a player on the rise in 2018-19 when he averaged career highs of 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in 52 contests. There were high hopes surrounding him entering the 2019-20 campaign, but his production dipped to 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Carter showed promise as a rookie with 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 44 appearances and followed that up with 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game this season.

The bulk of the offensive focus this season was on guard Zach LaVine, who averaged a career-high 25.5 points per contest.

Despite LaVine’s big-time production, Cowley noted that he’s “tired of missing out on the playoffs and being overlooked for All-Star recognition,” which makes him a trade candidate as well.

The Bulls have a talented, young core led by LaVine, Markkanen, Carter and Coby White, but it hasn’t led to much winning in recent years.

Chicago has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and wasn’t invited to Orlando, Florida, as part of the 2019-20 NBA restart, as its 22-43 record wasn’t quite good enough.

It is possible that the young core could continue to grow and help the Bulls become a factor in the Eastern Conference, but shaking up the roster may be the quickest route to contending, especially if Boylen isn’t resonating with the Bulls’ young stars.