The Bucks didn’t provide a timeline for Lopez’s recovery and return to action, simply stating that he’ll continue to be listed as out and updates on his rehab will be provided “as appropriate.” However, back surgeries typically aren’t procedures that players return from quickly, so it seems safe to assume it’ll be a longer-term absence for the big man.
Lopez, 33, played in Milwaukee’s season opener in October, but has been sidelined since then due to his back ailment. He said last month in an interview with Shams Charania that he was ramping up his activities and thought he was getting closer to a return, so it certainly doesn’t appear that surgery was always the plan.
The Bucks have been leaning primarily on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis to handle the five so far this season. The team also added veteran center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency this week, perhaps with Lopez’s looming surgery in mind.
There’s no indication at this point that Lopez’s back surgery will end his season, but if the injury is ultimately deemed season-ending, the Bucks could apply for a disabled player exception. If approved, it would be worth about $6.65MM, though it’s unclear how motivated Milwaukee would be to use such an exception, since team salary is already well above the tax line.