Chicago Bulls: Extending Robin Lopez makes sense


Three weeks ago, the trade deadline passed and Robin Lopez was on the verge of reaching a buy-out. Now, he’s an integral piece of this Chicago Bulls roster.

Whether it’s his monstrous presence in the paint, or his ruthless rivalry with the league’s mascots, it’s easy to see why Robin Lopez is such a hot commodity. The Chicago Bulls are now being rewarded for their patience, as Robin has exploded for 16.4 points and 1.9 blocks a game since the trade deadline.

The younger (by one minute) Lopez twin had many suitors at the deadline, including the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Many thought it would be best to buy-out his contract as a reward for his service here so he could pursue a championship.

However, the Chicago Bulls made moves to increase the talent on the floor instead of embracing the tank. The 30-year old Lopez pounced on the opportunity to showcase his abilities, as February ended up being the highest scoring month of his entire career.

Most importantly, Lopez has been instrumental in getting the most out the Bulls’ young core. As the oldest Bull on the roster, he has played in twice as many seasons as the next most experienced veteran on the roster– Otto Porter Jr.

He has proven to be an invaluable mentor for Chicago’s blossoming stars, seen in the rise of Lauri Markkanen’s aggressiveness and rebounding ability. Before Lopez was introduced into the starting lineup, Lauri was averaging 7 rebounds a game with a rebounding rate of 12.7 percent. After the promotion, Markkanen has been grabbing 12.1 boards a game on a much higher 18.4 percentage.

According to the NBA’s box-out statistics, Lopez is 7th in the league post-all star break in offensive box-outs. Protecting the paint comes easy with his 7-foot, 275-pound frame, allowing his teammates to get to the glass.

For a team that struggled with chemistry issues and locker room problems for the better part of three seasons, letting a player like Lopez walk would be a catastrophic failure on the front office’s part. There’s a reason Robin was named to the leadership committee even while coming off the bench. When asked about his buy-out situation and time in Chicago, he had this to say:

His experience and leadership is exactly what the Bulls need on nights like Friday’s thrilling four-overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Lopez saw the court for a season-high 39 minutes and helped provide the depth needed to push the team to a big win. The Chicago Bulls are now 5-1 in their last six games, and are looking very promising.

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The narrative in Chicago has seemingly shifted, with the roster happy to be here and rapidly improving. If the trend continues, the front office may have many more options on the table as they attempt to make a big leap in the draft and free agency. If Paxson and Forman have paid any attention this year, bringing Robin Lopez back into the fold will be among their offseason priorities.