Chicago Bulls: Robin Lopez role diminishing?

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: Robin Lopez #42 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 11, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: Robin Lopez #42 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 11, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Is the time for veteran center Robin Lopez in the Windy City with the Chicago Bulls over for all intents and purposes out of the All-Star Break?

Of all the anticipated 2019 NBA Trade Deadline moves for the Chicago Bulls, the only that was figured to be a sure thing was the eventual buyout of 30-year-old center Robin Lopez. Instead, the Chicago Bulls haven’t made any moves on that front yet and the two trades that were made were somewhat unexpected before the deadline.

The first move that the Chicago Bulls made was to acquire a dump off of roster and cap space from the Oklahoma City Thunder with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. There are some physical tools that are still appealing with Luwawu-Cabarrot, but he likely won’t  be a long-term piece with this franchise.

Then, the Chicago Bulls front office made the headlining move of acquiring small forward Otto Porter Jr. from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker. That deal sparked a decent run from the Bulls offense before the All-Star Break. But, the goal for this team at this point of the regular season isn’t to make the playoffs.

That’s largely why the Bulls could still be banking on buying out Lopez before the end of the regular season. Lopez is a big piece of the starting five, but doesn’t have much of a future in the Windy City. Once rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. returns from injury, he should also return to the starting five in place of Lopez.

Moreover, the point here is that the Chicago Bulls could be looking to push Lopez out of the picture before too long. According to a report from Clutch Points, Bulls head coach Jim Boylen doesn’t intent to fade Lopez out of the picture in the rotation. But, the rumors surrounding his buyout and the Bulls needing a good slot in the 2019 NBA Draft lottery indicates otherwise.

It doesn’t help Boylen’s cause in this regard that general manager Gar Forman was present at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels rivalry game on Feb. 20. The signs are looming that the Bulls are looking to have a solid off-season rebuilding this roster and the results through the rest of the 2018-19 regular season will take a backseat.

The Bulls shipped out quite a few big pieces of the front court before the deadline with Portis and Parker heading to D.C. Lopez could be the next part of the Bulls front court now that is on the way out of the Windy City.

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Previous to Carter Jr. going down with a thumb injury, Lopez was getting less and less playing time. With Carter Jr. out of the lineup, Lopez is back up around at least 30 minutes per game. That could go back down once the front court is healthy and back at full strength.