Although a report from ESPN on Thursday indicated that the Bulls and Robin Lopez are expected to engage in buyout talks now that the trade deadline has passed, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson sounds like he expects Lopez to stick with the franchise for the rest of the season, as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune relays.
“My feeling right now — it can change — is Robin will be with us,” Paxson said. “Our players love him. He’s a great teammate. We don’t feel it’s an absolute given that we have to just buy a guy out to help another team.”
Paxson acknowledged that the Bulls would “have a discussion” if Lopez’s representatives requested a buyout, but stressed that the club loves having the veteran center around. Previous reports have suggested that Lopez would likely sign with the Warriors if he’s released, so perhaps the Bulls’ front office also isn’t exactly eager to help out the two-time defending champions.
Here’s more on the Bulls:
- In explaining the trade for Otto Porter, Paxson said that the Bulls recognized they aren’t ready to pursue top free agents, which is why they didn’t mind committing future cap room to someone like Porter. “We’re not in the position to go after the big names, the franchise changers. We’re looking at things realistically,” Paxson said, per K.C. Johnson. “We also looked ahead to this summer, and even the summer beyond, at available wings and versatile players. There are no guarantees of getting players like that.”
- The Bulls remain committed to having Jim Boylen continue as head coach of the team next season, Paxson said on Thursday (link via K.C. Johnson). “We’re working well together,” Paxson said. “Our objectives are the same. Jim’s doing the right things. From our seats, he’s promoting the right message to our players and what we expect.”
- Speaking of Boylen, during a subsequent appearance on 670 The Score, Paxson pushed back on the narrative about the supposed near-mutiny that took place shortly after Boylen took over as the Bulls’ head coach, writes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Despite reports, Paxson said that Bulls players never contacted the NBPA about Boylen’s tactics.
- While Paxson said on Thursday that the Bulls continue to evaluate Kris Dunn, it’s becoming clear that the team will need to further address the point guard spot at some point, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. ESPN’s Zach Lowe previously reported that Dunn “was there to be had at the deadline.”
- According to K.C. Johnson (Twitter link), before the Bulls traded Bobby Portis this week, they offered him a multiyear extension worth $40-50MM last fall. For four years, that’d be an annual average value around $10-12MM, but word around the league is that Portis will seek $16MM annually this summer, per Johnson.