We can all breathe easy. The Milwaukee Bucks were able to re-sign their top to free agents of the 2023 offseason. Khris Middleton agreed to a three-year $102 million contract while Brook Lopez accepted a two-year $48 million contract. In addition, they also re-signed Jae Crowder to a one-year contract, but the details of that agreement have not been released as of this writing.
But what’s next? With Lopez, Middleton, and Crowder under contract, the Bucks now have nine players signed for the 2023-24 season. They need 15.
As everyone knows, their salary cap situation is, in a word, bleak. But just how bleak is it, and what can they do going forward?
The Milwaukee Bucks Salary Cap Is Over the NBA Threshold
Well, here’s the bad news:
- The NBA [soft] salary cap is set at $136,021,000
- The 2023 NBA Luxury Tax Threshold is set at $165,294,00
- The nine players the Bucks have under contract are signed for $169,729,282, not including whatever Jae Crowder signed for (details not public)
This means that Milwaukee is in the luxury tax with 3/5 of their roster signed. What’s more, the team went from having a $12.4 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception to a $5 million tax-payer exception.
As mentioned, Crowder’s salary has not been disclosed as of yet. It stands to reason that he is going to take up most of, if not all, the tax-payer exception. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to go forward as if he is making that $5 million figure.
*Note: All salary numbers and salary cap information via Spotrac
How Can the Milwaukee Bucks Fill the Rest of the Roster?
Assuming Crowder is making the full $5 million exception, that leaves the Bucks with few financial options to add to their roster. Adding that $5 million to their current payroll brings their cap number to $174,729,282.
As mentioned, they need 15 players; they have nine. This means they need to fill six roster spots while being in the luxury tax. The super-tax apron is set at $184,986,437. As we will see, it is going to be impossible for Milwaukee to stay below that apron while fielding a full roster.
Before we go any further, the most important number to know is the the NBA minimum salary is $3 million.
So, what are the Bucks’ options?
To be honest, not that many. They can sign their draft class and undrafted free agents and/or sign left over free agents to the league minimum for veterans.
In any case, there is no way that Milwaukee will be able to sign six players for less than $10.2 million (the amount of space they have before reaching the super-tax apron). Milwaukee will have a sky-high payroll.
The key is going to be Jon Horst finding quality veterans at the league minimum. Those players will not sign for a while, so do not be surprised if the Bucks free agent news dies down for a while.