Bulls’ Robin Lopez remains committed to the process, even after another loss
It would seem like the last thing Bulls center Robin Lopez would want to be involved in these days.
Forget the Bulls’ 101-90 loss Saturday to the Wizards, their eighth defeat in their last nine games. Lopez is in his 10th season, a few weeks away from turning 30 and about to see his minutes dwindle so the Bulls can audition players such as Cristiano Felicio and Noah Vonleh.
Most veterans would have boxes half-packed and their agent calling Bulls vice president John Paxson daily to figure out an exit strategy.
Not Lopez, though. He not only is willing to sit if that’s what’s asked of him, but he is all in on seeing what the rebuild will look like once the Bulls’ version of the ‘‘Big Three’’ is up and running.
Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen have played only three games together this season, and even those come with an asterisk, considering LaVine was just returning from major surgery on his left knee and was on a minutes restriction.
Getting those three youngsters up and running together tops the Bulls’ priority list in the last two months of the season.
‘‘I’m excited to get Zach and Kris together on the court where they can play unlimited minutes,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. ‘‘When they did play, it was [three] games they had before Kris [concussion] got hurt, and Zach was still only playing 20 minutes a game.
‘‘I’m excited to have those guys together, along with Lauri. It’s about growing. It’s about getting our guys better, developing their skill sets and playing good, hard, competitive basketball. Nothing changes from that standpoint.’’
Hoiberg isn’t alone in wanting to see what Markkanen, LaVine and Dunn will look like together. That’s where Lopez comes in.
‘‘I think that’s an exciting prospect, just as a basketball fan,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘It’s on a base level. We’ve been trying to get a lot of guys healthy for a long time. That’s part of the nature of the beast. But, yeah, that’s extremely exciting for us. It’s going to be exciting for me.’’
Especially now that Lopez, who still has another year on his contract, knows he will be here for at least the rest of this season. Will he make it out of the offseason without being traded? That’s unlikely, but that’s a conversation for another time, Lopez said.
‘‘I realize my role here,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘There are things to be done on the floor as well as off the floor, and if that’s part of my off-the-floor duties, so be it. I’m up for that. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far.’’
What wasn’t fun was the game. Not only was the final score on the ugly side, but so was the end.
Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky was driving along the baseline with 2:35 left when he ran into a clothesline from Bulls forward Bobby Portis. Satoransky, who finished with a career-high 25 points, had to leave the game after hitting his head on the court, and Portis was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected.
‘‘Everybody knows the rule,’’ Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. ‘‘It’s a dangerous play.’’
Not surprisingly, Portis had a different take on it.
‘‘I went for the ball, tried to block it,’’ Portis said. ‘‘You know, tight game. Tried to help our team. I was surprised [about the flagrant 2]. I didn’t think there was contact to the head.’’
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