Bulls big man Robin Lopez not looking to make waves with buyout demands

NEW YORK — Robin Lopez is a veteran of 11 seasons.

He’ll be 31 in April.

He hasn’t rocked the boat before, so why would he start now?

“I think that’s safe to say,’’ said Lopez, who scored 12 points in 18 minutes in the Bulls’ 125-106 victory against the Nets on Friday. “I never want to rock the boat too much. My main goal when I’m on a team is to make everybody else’s job easier, to help everybody else out. That’s my No. 1 priority.’’

Not that the Bulls would buy him out even if he wanted them to.

The trade deadline came and went Thursday afternoon, and Lopez remained a Bull. There were rumors that Lopez could be a buyout candidate leading up to the deadline, which obviously deflated his trade value, but vice president of basketball operations John Paxson squashed that speculation.

“I know there’s a lot of talk and rumor around the league about buyouts,’’ Paxson said. “We have not spoken about that. Internally as an organization, the discussions we have had center around the whole buyout process in general, and in a lot of ways it hurts the trade market when there’s all this belief that guys are going to be bought out. I certainly think it hurt us in this case. So we are not committed to anything right now.

“My feeling right now — it can change — but Robin will be with us. Our players love him, he’s a great teammate, he’s a good guy. We don’t feel it necessary — and again I’m speaking today, lock and chains — but we don’t feel it’s an absolute given that we have to just buy a guy out to help another team.’’

While Lopez indicated that he would like a chance at another playoff run, he made it clear that he isn’t stressed about a buyout.

“I’m not worried about that,’’ Lopez said. “I haven’t had any conversations with my agent yet.

“It’s nice to be wanted. While I’m here, I’m going to contribute how I can. I’m going to relish the opportunity. I enjoy playing with these guys. I enjoy being on the floor with them. Any chance I get to play, I’m looking forward to it.’’

The Bulls have a history of being reluctant to buy players out — look how long the Dwyane Wade saga dragged out — so Lopez may have to wait until the summer when he’s a free agent.

“Look, we have great respect for Robin,’’ Paxson said. “He’s a really interesting guy and we’ve loved having him around. And he’s been good for our team. But players go in and sign deals, and so when you’re under contract you’re under contract.’’


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A thankful coach

Jim Boylen heard and appreciated Paxson and general manager Gar Forman reiterating their commitment to keeping him around for next season.

“What I’ve said all along is ownership and management have been great,’’ Boylen said. “They’ve asked me to teach and coach and try to build this thing the right way. I talk to them about those buckets we’re trying to fill every day. It’s always nice to get public appreciation for what you’re trying to do. I’m thankful for that.’’

The Sun-Times reported last month that Boylen had his pay increased for not only this season, but also next season.

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