NBA Rumors: Robin Lopez Interested in Warriors; Bulls Refuse to Buy out Contract

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2019

Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (42) shoots against Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi (28) and forward Sam Dekker, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls are reportedly refusing to negotiate a buyout with center Robin Lopez because they believe they can trade him for assets to help their rebuild.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported the move, noting Lopez plans to sign with the Golden State Warriors if he is eventually bought out.

Adding Lopez would give the Warriors a formidable pair at the center position, with DeMarcus Cousins returning to the lineup this week after sitting out the first three months recovering from an Achilles tear.

Lopez told Haynes:

"I don't think there's an NBA player that doesn't want to be on a winning team, a playoff team. I feel like I'm kind of smack dab in the middle of the prime of my career. Who doesn't relish playing in playoff situations? That's something very appealing, and whether that's something the organization and myself come together and decide, that's something we want to work towards with this team, or whether that's something that's going to happen somewhere else, I'm just going to keep grinding. I think right now we definitely aspire to be a winning team, and I want to help out with that."

Lopez has been relegated to a small role for the rebuilding Bulls, who have emphasized getting young players extended minutes. He's averaging 5.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, his worst numbers since the 2011-12 season. His per-36-minute stats are his worst since he was a rookie.

The Warriors have spent the last month-and-a-half playing without a traditional center after Damian Jones suffered a torn pectoral. Jones has been given no formal timetable to return, and his spot in the rotation is tenuous when he does because of Cousins' presence. It's unclear what level of interest the Warriors have in Lopez, given their predilection for floor spacing.

"I think it's an appealing situation for just about anybody in the league," Lopez said of Golden State. "You go there, they share the ball, they play defense, they play the right way. But right now, that's something we're aspiring to do here. And there's a certain joy in trying build a culture like that, and I appreciate being a veteran in that position of helping shepherd a team towards that point."

Lopez is making $14.4 million in the final year of a four-year, $54 million contract he originally signed with the New York Knicks in 2015.

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