If the Bucks are determined to re-sign Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, they may have to trade at least one of their mid-level salaries to avoid the punitive restrictions in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Milwaukee already has $114.78MM committed to six players for next season, putting the team in sight of the projected $134MM salary cap.
The Bucks are about to pay the luxury tax for the third straight year, so they have to be mindful of the repeater penalties that will kick in if they top next season’s projected tax threshold of $162MM. Nehm notes that it will be almost impossible to stay under that number if Middleton picks up his $40.4MM player option, especially with Lopez seeking an increase on the $13.9MM he made this season. Middleton could also agree to decline the option and work out a long-term deal with a smaller salary for next year.
Nehm adds that the next figure to be concerned about is $179.5MM, which is where the new second apron is projected to begin. He notes that if the Bucks reach $170.18MM in salary with eight players, they won’t be able to offer an outside free agent more than a minimum contract, which is projected at $1.99MM for 2023/24, without going into the second apron.
If general manger Jon Horst chooses to unload salary to ease the team’s financial burden, Nehm sees Bobby Portis ($11.71MM next season), Pat Connaughton ($9.24MM) and Grayson Allen ($8.93MM) as the most likely to be traded.
There’s more from Milwaukee:
- Horst and his staff are going through draft preparations even though the Bucks only hold the 58th and final pick, per Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel. Horst wants the team to be ready for any scenario that might occur on draft night. “It’s not unforeseeable that we could acquire a first-round pick in some sort of deal that we execute prior to or at the draft, and they have to be ready for that,” he said. “We obviously possess a pick at the end of the second round. We have to be ready for that. But also, the trades and things that happen from a personnel, an NBA personnel standpoint, be ready for that.”
- The Bucks are continuing to monitor the progress of Hugo Besson, who was selected at No. 58 last year and was acquired from the Pacers for cash considerations, Owczarski adds. The French guard played four Summer League games for Milwaukee in 2022 and then joined Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92.
- Heat assistant Chris Quinn could be a name to watch in the Bucks’ coaching search if he can convince ownership that he can translate some of Miami’s toughness to Milwaukee, suggests Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News.
- In case you missed it, University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson and Wizards assistant Joseph Blair are the Bucks’ latest interviewees.