Giannis Antetokounmpo said he wanted the Bucks to run it back with this group, just as a leaked report suggested that if the Bucks don’t make the Finals next season, it could impact his decision whether to re-sign with Milwaukee in 2020.
Not shockingly, the team’s owner has stepped up and said he wants to bring everyone back, too.
Milwaukee co-owner Marc Lasry said this to Frank Isola of The Athletic.
“Our goal is to keep everybody,” Lasry told The Athletic, three days after the Bucks season ended in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “And we’re going to do everything in our power to keep the nucleus of our team.”
Are Lasry and the ownership group willing to pay the luxury tax — and if so, how much — to reach that goal? That’s the real question. The Bucks have not paid the tax as a franchise since 2003.
Doing so may be the only way to keep Antetokounmpo long term.
“As long as we keep doing well and Giannis believes we’re doing everything we can to win I feel good about our chances,” Lasry said [about keeping him].
Four players part of the Milwaukee rotation — Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic – become free agents this summer. Keeping all of them seems unlikely, but our own Dan Feldman estimates the Bucks will be about $54 million below the tax line before re-signing those starters.
Middleton is going to get max offers from other teams, and while the Bucks would love to pay him a little less than that they have no choice but to pay that to keep him. The Bucks have full Bird rights on him and can offer whatever they want.
Brogdon is a restricted free agent, meaning Milwaukee can match any offer, and they are expected to.
Things are more challenging with Lopez, but the Bucks want to bring him back. Under the terms of the CBA, the Bucks can only offer $4.1 million to Lopez — and he will get offers well above that number from other teams — unless they tape into their exceptions (if the Bucks are under the tax that’s about $9 million, go over it and it’s about $6 million). Lopez was such a lynchpin for the Bucks on both ends of the floor they will need to do what they can to keep him.
That likely leaves Mirotic — who was on the bench against the Raptors for much of the series — as the odd man out.
The Bucks saw their weaknesses exposed by the Raptors, they know what they need to do to take the next steps. The question is will they pull it off.