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Chicago open to bringing back Robin Lopez next season

Bulls

Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez has taken the playing time granted to him during the second half of the 2018-19 season and run with it. With rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. shut down for the year due to left thumb surgery, the Bulls have turned the starting center role over to Lopez, who has shone in his return to the starting lineup. Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations John Paxson is well aware of how vital Lopez has been to the squad, and as it pertains to bringing him back beyond this year, he said via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Robin has been terrific for us. We’ll keep an open mind on that, absolutely.’’

Since the All-Star break, Lopez has started all 16 games that he has appeared in and has averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest, while shooting 59.1 percent. Those numbers are markedly improved from the 7.2 points and 3.0 rebounds he averaged through his first 50 games, 12 of which were starts.

Still, Lopez has seen his overall role decreased this season, his third in Chicago. It seems obvious that Carter is the team’s center of the future, having started all 44 games that he appeared in during his rookie season out of Duke. That doesn’t mean that the 11th-year center doesn’t have a role off the bench for Chicago moving forward. After two years as the full-time starter for Chicago, Lopez is playing in just his age-30 campaign. He’ll have the final eight games of the season to drive home the point, but he’s looking to prove his worth for the franchise moving into next year.