The Bulls aren’t looking to play hardball with Robin Lopez as much as they are just trying to conduct smart business. So while there was a Yahoo Sports report out late Sunday night that stated the Bulls were refusing to negotiate a buyout with their veteran center so that he could possibly join the Golden State Warriors, looking to trade Lopez before the Feb. 7 trade deadline has been atop their priority list for the last few months and will stay there.
“I’m looking to play basketball,’’ Lopez said last week. “That’s what I’m here to do, that’s what I enjoy doing. I like playing with these guys, so whatever happens I’m going to go out there and work for my teammates.’’
There were some heated trade talks about Lopez a few weeks ago, but the Sun-Times has learned they mostly have quieted down. Buying out Lopez isn’t an option yet because the Bulls don’t want teams to think he could be had by just waiting. So Lopez is back in limbo. “There’s kind of been a little shoe-dangling over the past couple years,” Lopez said recently when asked if he thought he was the next trade shoe to drop after Justin Holiday was sent to the Grizzlies.
The Bulls are working to get at least a second-round pick in a trade for Lopez and his $14 million expiring contract. But there have also been rumors of a possible buyout as the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches. If teams sense that Lopez will be bought out, there's less of an incentive to give up a draft asset before the deadline. The Bulls would likely only accept another expiring contract back for him in a trade, and getting the money to match up with Lopez's salary presents a challenge. For now, the Bulls position is that they plan to keep Lopez for the season, barring a trade, because of the veteran leadership he provides on a young team. But the situation appears fluid.
Joe Cowley: The Bulls are hopeful they can trade Lopez, so protecting the asset plays into this. But still a quiet market for him, after there were heated talks last week that have died out.
Joe Cowley: Things got chippy in Bulls practice today. Robin Lopez not a happy camper. No punches thrown, according to coach Jim Boylen.
Joe Cowley: Lopez was also informed that his minutes could take a hit before the practice, so safe to assume he wasn’t in a great mood to start. He was not made available to the media.
The Grizzlies remain $463,000 under the luxury tax with the $4.4 million addition of Holiday. The Bulls are in a dealmaking mode, shopping center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker in trade talks, sources said.
The Warriors don’t have the spare assets to engage in meaningful trade business before the deadline. Golden State also hasn’t made a single in-season trade since its championship run began with the 2014-15 season. No team, though, is likely to be more attractive to veterans who become free agents in February than the two-time reigning champions. One name to file away here: Chicago’s Robin Lopez. The Bulls have made Lopez available via trade along with the former No. 2 overall draft pick Jabari Parker, according to league sources, but moving the experienced center isn’t so simple given his $14.4 million salary.
It’ll likely to get worse, though, with Portis, Lopez and Parker all likely to be traded, weakening the roster without necessarily garnering significant returns. (Portis would probably command the most in a deal and could still be a part of the Bulls’ future if the price is right.)
Holiday and Robin Lopez are available all day, every day for the right asset. So a trade wouldn’t be a result of the season going south. As mentioned above, if noncompetitive losses start piling up, attention will shift to Hoiberg. Given that expectations were low even before the widespread injuries to critical players, none of the above is a possibility as well. The only one I’d rule out is change in management. Team President Michael Reinsdorf praised management — and Hoiberg — in an interview on the eve of camp.
This is pure conjecture. Nothing more, nothing less. I wonder if the Bulls have a trade lined up for Lopez. Reporters don’t get to watch practice. But in games, there was zero evidence to suggest Felicio should be playing over Lopez, even though Lopez hasn’t looked good at all this season. Now, Lopez can’t even get in the game? That’s fishy.
‘‘Trades are part of the business,’’ Lopez said before the game. ‘‘Guys are used to it. At the end of the day, it’s just us and the other team and basketball. I don’t think anybody is focused on anything else.’’
In fact, with league sources indicating that talks centered on Robin Lopez have intensified and also that the Bulls and Thunder have discussed at least Tony Allen’s expiring contract, management will be busy between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.
Chicago is still open for business despite trading Mirotic to New Orleans. The Bulls would also entertain moving center Robin Lopez for a first-round pick, league sources told The Athletic.
According to one Eastern Conference executive and one Western Conference executive, the Bulls have made preliminary inquiries on Mirotic’s value, along with Robin Lopez’s. The Bulls, who are under the salary-cap floor, are seeking to add future assets in terms of draft picks without taking on long-term contracts.
The Chicago Bulls are exploring the trade market in search of a first-round draft pick in exchange for either center Robin Lopez or forward Doug McDermott, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Chicago has its own 2017 first-round pick and is also owed Sacramento’s 2017 first-round pick. However, Sacramento’s pick is top-10 protected. Chicago is currently tied for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference standings with the Detroit Pistons with a 26-29 record.
Chicago remains interested in acquiring Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor. It’s unclear at this time if exploring the trade market for a first-round pick in exchange for either Lopez or McDermott is related to the Okafor trade talks.
New York Knickerbockers President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has acquired three-time NBA All-Star and 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls. As part of the deal, the Knicks have also acquired guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round draft selection in exchange for guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant and center Robin Lopez.
"As we said at the end of last season, we are committed to exploring every option to improve this team," said Forman. "This trade is a significant step in that process. Our goal is to get younger and more athletic, and this trade moves us in that direction and allows us to start changing the structure of our team. In Robin Lopez, we are acquiring a starting center who is a good defender, good rebounder, and brings a toughness to our team. Jose Calderon is a proven veteran who can run an offense and knock down threes. Jerian Grant was high on our draft board last year as someone with a great skill set and positional size. All three players are great teammates and have tremendous work ethic, and we are excited to welcome them to the Chicago Bulls organization."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Players involved in the Rose deal have been informed, sources tell @TheVertical.
If Jackson makes a play for Gasol to be the perfect mentor to Porzingis, he always could attempt to trade Lopez, who has been effective since late December but also will make more than $13 million next season.
June 28, 2022 | 1:39 pm EDT Update
James Plowright: Kupchak on why Clifford was chosen “Early on in the process we leaned towards candidates with experience… We knew defensively we needed to wrap it up a little bit… Some other “Areas” that need to be improved. Clifford brought us a long way in his 4 years”
Rod Boone: Steve Clifford said he expects to play the same kind of uptempo offensive style the #Hornets have used the past two seasons. He also knows expectations are much greater than they were previously and he’s fine with that. “The NBA is all about winning in the playoffs. That’s it.” pic.twitter.com/ekKRRGJYmk
June 28, 2022 | 1:14 pm EDT Update
Per LJ Ellis of Spurs Talk, the only player San Antonio actually wants from Atlanta is Onyeka Okongwu. Also, despite BR’s Jake Fischer reporting that the Spurs are looking for three first-rounders in a possible deal for Murray, that’s also false. Ellis notes Gregg Popovich’s squad would take no less than four unprotected first-round picks. There’s talk that the Spurs are looking to trade Murray for three first round draft picks. I’m told that is incorrect. San Antonio’s asking price for Murray is four first round draft picks with little to no protections. Alternatively, the Spurs want three minimally protected first rounders and two unprotected first round pick swaps.
Interestingly, an insider close to the situation says that the Spurs have multiple teams making a strong push for Murray besides the Hawks. One Eastern Conference team, he says, is offering three first round draft picks and a desirable young player in a proposed swap. He also stated that the Minnesota Timberwolves have expressed serious interest in Murray.
Because he was voted third-team All-NBA this season, Towns is eligible for an extension of up to four years and roughly $211 million. “I can’t wait to sit down with him and his representation ASAP and keep this thing going,” Connelly told The Athletic in a conversation not long after he was hired away from the Denver Nuggets. “He’s special and deserves everything that is going to come his way.”
“I think our goal is to win enough games to put KAT’s jersey in the rafters,” Connelly said. “He’s a guy that’s been through so much, and he’s only getting better and better. We’re going to go as far as he takes us.” With contracts this big, the only question that remains is how much more Towns has to give. Over his career, he has averaged 23.2 points and 11.3 rebounds and has a .624 true shooting percentage. But the Wolves have only made the playoffs twice in his seven seasons, and his performance against Memphis in April had highs (29 points, 13 rebounds in Game 1, 33 points, 14 boards in Game 4) and lows (eight points on four shots in Game 3, 15 points on seven shots in Game 2).