Today is the NBA deadline for players to be waived and still eligible to be added to another team’s playoff roster. While it had been speculated for much of the season that Robin Lopez would be one of those members of John Paxson’s hated ‘buyout market’, and reports before the trade deadline indicated he was angling to go to the Golden State Warriors, RoLo is sticking around.
And he seems ok with that:
It’s been so much fun playing with these guys. It’s something I want to be a part of the rest of the season...It’s really cool what we’re trying to build here right now. I think we have some great pieces on all levels — coaching level, player level. We’re coming together to do something really special.
Alright, so we’ll forgive some poor judgement on the overall path of the team given they’re in the short-term glow of late-season good play. And Lopez himself is a big part of that.
Early in the year, Lopez was looking so slow it was signaling he may be out of the league soon, and he quickly lost his starting job to a rookie in Wendell Carter. Since Carter went out for the season, Lopez has come back in and stabilized things, a term which may not be even giving him enough credit.
The tank has been wanked in the past couple weeks due to many factors, and Lopez has been among them. And in terms of more hidden factors (somebody should do a deep dive...) he is likely helping the more star players a lot. Like how Otto Porter has gotten more subjective credit for the spacing and defense he provides the lineup, Lopez’s strengths have also buoyed other teammates’ numbers. Think of Lopez’s legendary box-out skills allowing Lauri Markkanen to gobble rebounds and push the ball, or Lopez’s screens freeing up a LaVine pull-up jumper with a lot more space.
There is the argument that Lopez has been too good, and that the team would be better served long-term gaining a few percentage points chance at higher picks by cutting bait and forcing Cristiano Felicio to provide the starting lineup some real Winnie the Pooh aesthetic while sabotaging things. But it’s not like Lopez isn’t eating (too many) post-up possessions in getting his own, he’s doing things to help the more important players develop, and that has value.
And he has always helped in some other value, reducing the toxicity that permeates this franchise. That’s something! Let’s let the Bulls head coach comment on this:
when your heart is pure and you care, I just think those things happen for you. The ball finds you.
Oh god nevermind let’s not end with cut-rate Coach Taylor, let’s instead go to Lopez’s recent appearance on The Starters to show why he’s a good guy to keep around.