With two years and $28 million left on his contract, Bulls center Robin Lopez is one of the few trade candidates on roster. Rebuilding makes the veteran a luxury item, but it’s best to let young players get their minutes. Essentially, Lopez is due for another offseason trade.
If there’s a place the Chicago Bulls didn’t need more players, it was in the front court with starting center Robin Lopez. Logically, Gar Forman and John Paxson took it upon themselves to draft Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen.
Announcing plans to re-sign restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio‘s status trending towards a return, there’s a mess of young talent that doesn’t include Lopez, Joffery Lauvergne and Bobby Portis. Now, you’ve got a good-ole-fashion logjam.
There are young players on this current Bulls roster who have yet to prove anything near what Lopez has offered over his eight-year career. Getting picks out of the 7-footer from Stanford will be essential. Also, consider the fact that he’s coming off of a very solid season (and postseason) for the Bulls. In a particularly strong 2016-17 showing, Lopez averaged 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game (11th-best in NBA). Adding onto his resume were 4.3 win shares last season.
Currently, the Bulls’ roster is front court-heavy in a league that’s moved to the back court. Lopez works tremendously well in some situations, but this situation is no longer among that bunch. The Bulls are in position to do a complete roster overhaul, so getting picks from the remaining pieces will be an essential task.
The two most expensive contracts on roster are Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez. Realistically, that Wade contract will be on the books. It’s about $24 million, but it’s just a year. Lopez, on the other hand, has an affordable $14 million per season over the next two campaigns.
Just as the Nets’ moved their (Brook) Lopez brother to start the offseason, it makes a reasonable amount of sense for the Bulls to move their own. After all, Lopez will not be a part of the next window of success.
Finding the right club may not be easy
Phoenix comes into the 2017-18 season with plenty of signs of hope. Despite their 24-58 finish, Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe looked like a tough tandem. Add Josh Jackson to the fold and you’ve got yourself and interesting bunch. They’ll have Tyson Chandler on their roster, but it appears the veteran is on the trade block.
Meanwhile, the Wizards find themselves on the back end of a 49-33 season, where they finished fourth in the East. Marcin Gortat, who’s now 33 years old and continues getting less effective, so moving Lopez into his spot may prove beneficial.
Getting at least one first round pick out of the center will be crucial. He’s got a mid-to-late first round trade value overall, but getting extra picks could prove gigantic. Perhaps an additional second-rounder could help a roster that needs all the young talent it can surmise.
Lopez turns 29 in August, so he’s at or near the end of his prime. As we’ve seen so many times, big men only get so many bounces on those knees.