Robin Lopez is still a valuable NBA player. He’s also a veteran who doesn’t have a practical purpose on the Chicago Bulls’ roster outside of hope that he would impart wisdom on younger players. As such, Lopez has felt like an obvious choice to be traded this year.
But Lopez has $14.3 million left on his expiring contract in 2018-19, which doesn’t quite match his current output level. We’re approaching the Feb. 7 trade deadline, and the Bulls and Lopez are wondering if they’ll be able to get a deal done.
According to one report, Lopez would prefer to join the Golden State Warriors. The only trouble is that there appears to be some difference of opinion about whether Lopez will be traded or bought out.
Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes says that Lopez prefers to go to the defending NBA Champions if he gets bought out. The only problem is that the Bulls would prefer to trade Lopez instead of eating a large portion of his contract and handing him directly to the Finals favorites.
“I don’t think there’s an NBA player that doesn’t want to be on a winning team, a playoff team,” Lopez told Yahoo Sports after Chicago was routed by the Warriors 146-109 Friday night. “I feel like I’m kind of smack dab in the middle of the prime of my career. Who doesn’t relish playing in playoff situations? That’s something very appealing and whether that’s something the organization and myself come together and decide, that’s something we want to work towards with this team, or whether that’s something that’s going to happen somewhere else, I’m just going to keep grinding. I think right now we definitely aspire to be a winning team, and I want to help out with that.”
“I’m not heavily involved in [buyout talks] because I try to stay focused in on the day-to-day,” Lopez told Yahoo Sports. “My [agent] keeps me informed of the bigger bullet points, abreast of the more important news.”
It’s not immediately clear why the Bulls would decide to buy Lopez out instead of trade him. Lopez doesn’t have an immoveable contract and the rotating carousel of bad teams helping make playoff contenders better via buyouts is ridiculous. Frankly, that title teams get to just add anyone over 30 who signed bad contracts with non-playoff teams is anti-competition.
Chicago is under the luxury tax and Lopez is an expiring contract. If anything it makes more sense not only to try to trade him for an asset, but to keep him on after the deadline and utilize his space next summer when they can decline Jabari Parker‘s option and go after a stellar class of major free agents.
Chicago is being smart by not kowtowing to what appears to be external pressure by the Warriors and Lopez to get them to buy him out.