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It's understandable if Chicago Bulls fans are salty when they reflect on Lauri Markkanen's time with the team. After all, expectations were high for the Finnish forward when he was drafted in 2017. But despite his at times rocky tenure in Chicago, Markkanen looks back fondly on his time there.

Fond memories

Markkanen got his start in the NBA in Chicago after he was traded to the Bulls from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the package for Jimmy Butler. He quickly became a fan favorite, showing flashes of brilliance and putting up solid numbers of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in his rookie season. Those performances earned him a spot on the All-Rookie team.

"I have very good memories from Chicago playing-wise and off the court; my kids being born there, growing as a family in the city of Chicago and playing with one of the most historic franchises," said Markkanen before he and the Utah Jazz faced off against the Bulls on Monday.

His time in Chicago, though, barely bore fruit as the Bulls failed to reach the playoffs in his four seasons. Markkanen was hardly to blame for it.

"Obviously, there were definitely hard times as well, missing the playoffs four years straight. But I think now it's just easy to say I needed that kind of experience to fight through that kind of stuff and get here where I am today," added the Jazz forward.

A fresh start with the Jazz

In 2021, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Markkanen in a three-team trade involving the Bulls and the Portland Trailblazers. There, he formed part of a supersized frontline with promising big men Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. However, he spent just a season there as he was moved to the Utah Jazz earlier this year in the trade that sent Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers.

The move has worked wonders for Markkanen's career, as he is averaging 21.7 points on 52% shooting, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists for the surprising Jazz. The 25-year-old himself admitted that his time with the Bulls helped him take that next step in Utah.

"I think Chicago was a great experience," said Markkanen. "It's just easy to say now, looking back and seeing how much I evolved as a player and as a person during those four years. I think I've definitely got better from those years, just mentality-wise and physically being in a better place. I'm smarter and better now."