Lopez sure proved himself this season.
The center shined for the breakthrough Bucks. He became an elite 3-point threat for a big, spacing the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo. On the other end, Lopez paired nicely with Antetokounmpo as a staunch rim protector.
But because Lopez spent only one season in Milwaukee, the Bucks have just his Non-Bird Rights. That makes re-signing tricky.
At least Lopez and the Bucks appear intent on finding common ground.
Both sides are motivated to get a deal done, per source
Milwaukee can now open about $14 million in cap space while keeping cap holds for Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon. The Bucks could use that cap room to re-sign Lopez then exceed the cap to re-sign Middleton and Brogdon.
If a $14 million starting salary isn’t enough for Lopez, Milwaukee can clear more room by stretching Leuer and/or George Hill. The Bucks must decide on whether to stretch Hill’s $1 million guarantee by Thursday. They can decide on Leuer’s $9.76 million salary anytime by Aug. 31.
This plan could get expensive. Middleton could command a max contract. As a restricted free agent, Brogdon could land a huge offer sheet from a team trying to poach him. How much luxury tax will Milwaukee pay?
But soon-to-be-super-max-eligible Antetokounmpo is watching. Securing his supporting cast is important.