But Robin Lopez – who has a $5,005,350 player option – is giving Milwaukee a break.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee Bucks center Robin Lopez is declining his $5M player option and becoming a free agent, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 16, 2020
This is probably a poor financial decision by Lopez, a 32-year-old center who got benched in the playoffs. His salary will likely land closer to his minimum next season ($2,564,753).
But it might be a reasonable personal decision. Milwaukee lost faith in him, and his expiring contract would’ve made him a viable piece in rumored trades. At least he’ll now get to control his destination.
The Bucks lose a trade conduit and gain no cap space, but they gain flexibility to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9,258,000) and/or acquire someone in a sign-and-trade. Spending more than the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000) or acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade would trigger a hard cap ($138,928,000).
Despite the confusing nomenclature, Milwaukee can still spend the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and pay the luxury tax. Teams that use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception just can’t go more than $6,301,000 over the luxury-tax line ($132,627,000).