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Robin Lopez likely to be gone after season, despite mutual interest to re-sign with Bulls

Bulls, Robin Lopez

Robin Lopez was one of the most notable names at the center position that were rumored to be available before the trade deadline, yet the Chicago Bulls chose to keep him and even bolstered his role and minutes for a stretch after the deadline passed.

The 7-footer reciprocated that respect with a show of interest to remain in Chicago, but that could be getting in the way of the Bulls’ rebuilding plans, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

“It’s been widely reported that the Bulls are open to re-signing Lopez and Lopez told me before a road game in Orlando that he’s open to re-signing. That said, I do think it’s more likely that Lopez is gone.”

Johnson would then explain why a break-up between the long-haired big man and the organization is in a way, inevitable.

“He wants, and deserves, to play. And if healthy, Markkanen and Carter are going to play a lot,” wrote Johnson. “Yes, you need at least a three- and possibly four-man rotation for the power forward and center. However, [Jim] Boylen also has talked about trying Markkanen at center and Porter at power forward in some smaller lineups. And Cristiano Felicio’s contract remains virtually untradeable. So Felicio will be back. If Lopez is willing to accept a smaller role, he’d be a perfect fit. The Bulls are cognizant of the issue you raise and typically have added reserve veterans who put the team first. So if it’s not Lopez, look for similarly-minded veterans to be added in free agency.”

Lopez is a great team player and outstanding at knowing his role and providing just that, but the Bulls will need to give their young guys heavy minutes and by that, it means reducing Lopez’ playing time down the stretch.

Unless he agrees to that, it’s likely Chicago will let him find a place that will use his talents, just out of mutual respect.