Robin Lopez surely wants to play for a contender, and some contenders will want him, but the Chicago Bulls aren’t moving toward the easiest path to allow the move.
At first glance, a veteran player on an expiring contract who’s averaging 16.3 minutes per game doesn’t have much value to a team with a 10-33 record. Robin Lopez is also the oldest player on said team, with some rumored interest from at least one contending team. But according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Chicago Bulls are not willing to negotiate a buyout with the veteran big man.
A couple reports have pointed to the Golden State Warriors having interest in Lopez, with Damian Jones (pectoral) out and despite DeMarcus Cousins being slated to return soon. A trade for Lopez is unlikely, given the top-heavy nature of Golden State’s roster, so the buyout market is the clearest path to add the frontcourt depth they seek. March 1 is the deadline for a player to be bought out and still be eligible for the playoffs.
The Bulls can’t be blamed for wanting to get something for Lopez, rather than just buying him out and getting nothing for him. But the level of assets they’d get in a trade feels limited, even with Lopez on an expiring contract, as even a contending team might balk at even giving up a late first-round pick.
The Bulls just played Golden State on Friday night, and Lopez spoke to Haynes about the appeal of the Warriors’ situation. As general manager of the Phoenix Suns in 2008, Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr drafted Lopez.
I think it’s an appealing situation for just about anybody in the league,” Lopez told Yahoo Sports about the Warriors. “You go there, they share the ball, they play defense, they play the right way. But right now, that’s something we’re aspiring to do here. And there’s a certain joy in trying build a culture like that, and I appreciate being a veteran in that position of helping shepherd a team towards that point.
Now into his 11th NBA season, Lopez has only played in 28 playoff games. With twin brother Brook on the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, there’s still a chance of a sure-to-be much-anticipated Lopez brothers clash in the NBA Finals.