The Milwaukee Bucks’ offseason just got a little bit more complicated. Veteran backup point guard Jevon Carter has declined his $2.24 million player option for the 2023-24 season. He will now become an unrestricted free agent.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Jevon Carter will decline his $2.24 million player option for the 2023-24 season and become an unrestricted free agent, a league source told @hoopshype. Carter, a strong defender, shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range in 81 regular-season games played.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 28, 2023
Last week, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton also turned down his player option for the 2023-24 season. However, multiple reports state that NBA executives expect him to re-sign with Milwaukee.
Due to the Bucks owning Middleton’s Bird rights, it will be easier than many think for them to bring him back. The same is could be true for Carter.
Will Jevon Carter Return to the Milwaukee Bucks?
Undoubtedly, Carter will search for a higher salary than his $2.24 million player option was worth. And he will certainly get it, whether it be in Milwaukee or elsewhere. Carter shot a blistering 42.1% from three while averaging a career-high 8.0 points for the Bucks last season.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee does not have a great deal of salary cap space to work with. They now only have six players under contract for next season, meaning they need to sign nine more players to fill their roster.
As I detail here, allowing Middleton and Brook Lopez to walk away in free agency will not afford them more space to sign more players. If the Bucks wish to field a competitive team, they would do well to bring back a three-time All-Star (Middleton) and Defensive Player of the Year finalist (Lopez).
But what about Carter? The simple fact of the matter is that Carter is not as valuable a roster piece as Middleton and Lopez, so his re-signing will not take priority.
That being said, there is still a way they can bring him back. Milwaukee owns Carter’s Early Bird rights because he spent the last two seasons with the team. According to Hoops Hype, teams that own a player’s Early Bird rights can pay their own free agent 175% of the player’s pervious contract or 104% of the league average salary, whichever is higher.
A deal between a team and a player using Early Bird rights is not limited by the salary cap. In other words, the Bucks could be over the cap and still sign Carter.
Carter’s contract with the Bucks was a two-year deal for $4.4 million. 175% of the $2.2 million salary is $3.85 million. However, note that the “whichever is higher” phrase. The league average salary last season was $6.6 million. 104% of that figure is $6.864 million. That is the annual salary that Carter would get offered from the Bucks.
Is Carter worth close to $7 million a year? For a backup point guard who can shoot over 40% from the floor, I’d say so. We will see if the Bucks feel the same way, or if he gets bigger offers on the open market.