After the Bulls held onto Robin Lopez at the trade deadline, one report indicated that the two sides would likely engage in buyout talks. However, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson downplayed that possibility the next day, and it sounds like the team’s stance hasn’t changed much since then.
As Mike McGraw of The Daily Herald tweets, a Lopez buyout still appears very unlikely with a Friday deadline looming — in order to retain his playoff eligibility for a new team, a player must be waived by the end of the day on March 1. For his part, Lopez doesn’t seem to be pushing for any sort of buyout agreement with the Bulls.
“I haven’t even been thinking about it,” the veteran center told McGraw. “We’ve been having a lot of fun out on the court right now and I’m relishing it.”
As Lopez suggests, the Bulls have been playing some of their best basketball recently, winning three games in a row from February 13-23 over the Grizzlies, Magic, and Celtics. Those wins were bookended by a pair of losses to the NBA-best Bucks, but Lopez has been a force during the five-game stretch, averaging 20.6 PPG on 64.6% shooting in 31.4 minutes per contest.
There was a sense that the Bulls would prioritize their younger players down the stretch, with Lopez playing a diminished role. However, Wendell Carter has been sidelined with a thumb injury and Bobby Portis was sent to the Wizards at the deadline, clearing the path for Lopez to continue playing major frontcourt minutes. He has seen the brunt of the playing time at the five ahead of Cristiano Felicio as of late.
There were rumblings last month that the Warriors would likely be Lopez’s next destination if he reached the open market, but unless the Bulls have a change of heart within the next few days, it doesn’t look like Golden State will have a shot at him.