The Milwaukee Bucks may have a new head coach in Adrian Griffin, but their goal and expectation for next season remains the same: win the NBA Championship. In order to do that, though, they will need to complete their roster. Milwaukee currently does not have an entire roster under contract next season, so finding role players to contribute alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo will be an important task this offseason. Some of these roster spots will likely be claimed by free agents who decide to return to Milwaukee, including Brook Lopez, who John Hollinger of The Athletic says the Bucks have “no choice” but to bring back.
Re-Signing Brook Lopez Should Be a Priority for the Milwaukee Bucks
In his article ranking the top 25 NBA free agents on the market, Hollinger ranked Lopez 24th. This is not to say that he thinks Lopez is not a good player, but that the fact that he is 35 years old and recently missed almost a full season due to back surgery may hurt his market. That being said, Lopez has proven to be one of the team’s most important defenders and a good offensive compliment to Giannis:
“The truism with players this old is that it isn’t the money that burns you, it’s the years. Lopez was awesome this season, but he’s 35 and missed nearly all the previous season with back surgery. Between that and his playing the least valuable position, the BORD$ valuation is pretty conservative.
“Milwaukee has absolutely no choice but to bring Lopez back and, as noted with Middleton above, has some incentives to extend out the years rather than going high on the money in 2023-24. In Lopez’s case, however, that’s constrained both by the “over-38” rule and by the real possibility that Lopez could decline quickly in the out years on a new contract. I don’t think the money gets quite as low as this BORD$ number suggests, but maybe something in the range of $55 million to $60 million over three years?”
Of course, the issue here is the salary. The Bucks simply cannot afford even those contract figures. That is, not right now. Hollinger mentioned earlier in his article, and I expounded on it here, that the Bucks could clear tens of millions of dollars in salary cap space by extending Khris Middleton. Even then, however, Lopez would probably have to take less money to stay in Milwaukee than he could get by going elsewhere.
The long and short of it is that Milwaukee is not going to get a better defensive center on the market. After all, Lopez was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year this year. He also averaged 15.9 points per game, his best average since the 2016-17 season when he played for the Brooklyn Nets. Lopez’s 53.1% field goal percentage was the second-best in his career and his 37.4% three point percentage was a career-high.
In other words, Lopez has been and can continue to be a valuable contributor to this Bucks team. The only question is if Milwaukee can convince him to take less money to stay.