JUNE 30TH, 11:01am: It appears the interest between Chandler and the Bucks is mutual, according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. Some league executives who spoke with ESPN’s Chris Broussard believe he’ll end up in Milwaukee, though the Mavs aren’t out of the running (Twitter link).
JUNE 12TH, 8:27am: The Bucks have grand designs for the summer ahead and plan a hard push to sign at least one of Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Bucks, who set themselves up with an additional $7.9MM in cap flexibility with Thursday’s Ersan Ilyasova trade, would also like to go after DeAndre Jordan, but it’s widely regarded a two-team race between the Clippers and Mavericks for his services, Stein also hears.
Lopez has a player option worth more than $16.744MM for next season. Some people around the league told Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times during the spring that they thought Lopez might consider opting out and signing with the Bucks, citing his ties to former Nets and current Bucks coach Jason Kidd. Still, multiple reports from about six weeks ago indicated that it was likely Lopez would turn down his option and re-sign with the Nets, with one opposing GM telling Fred Kerber of the New York Post that Lopez would be back with Brooklyn at the max. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News wrote shortly thereafter that “genuine uncertainty” existed about Lopez’s plans for the option, though Nets GM Billy King has said time and again that the Nets intend to keep Lopez one way or another.
Milwaukee would likely have competition for Lopez even if he does decide to leave the Nets, and speculation, at least, has suggested the Spurs have interest. Lopez and Kidd have a good relationship, Woelfel wrote, but Robert Windrem of NetsDaily casts doubt on that notion, writing that Kidd wasn’t enamored with Lopez’s game during their time together in Brooklyn. Kidd wanted the Nets to trade Lopez and Mirza Teletovic to the Bucks for Ilyasova and Larry Sanders last year, though Kidd made that push knowing that he could end up coaching Milwaukee, according to the NetsDaily scribe.
Chandler, a former teammate of Kidd’s, has made it clear that he would prefer a return to the Mavs, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com wrote earlier this week. He isn’t the top priority for Dallas, MacMahon cautions, though the Mavs would like to retain him if they miss out on Jordan. He’s expected to garner at least a three-year, $36MM deal, according to MacMahon. The Bucks, thanks to the Ilyasova deal, could afford that sort of arrangement and a new deal for Khris Middleton, even if Middleton ends up with the max. Milwaukee is set on matching any offer sheets for the soon-to-be restricted free agent, and a source told Stein that the degree of certainty that Middleton will be back with the Bucks is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Middleton’s diminutive cap hold of slightly more than $2.725MM will help the Bucks have cap space even for a more costly max deal for Lopez, who as a seven-year veteran would be eligible for an estimated starting salary of roughly $19MM. It would get tricky if Lopez lingers on his decision and another team signs Middleton to a lucrative offer sheet that the Bucks would have three days to match, but he couldn’t sign an offer sheet until after the end of the July Moratorium, which runs through July 8th. The Bucks, as it stands, have only about $36MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $67.1MM cap. Milwaukee’s dream scenario involves signing Lopez or Chandler and a well-regarded perimeter defender, according to Stein, who also identifies adding more shooting as one of the team’s priorities.