Few NBA players are enjoying more successful contract years than Bucks center Brook Lopez, who has bounced back after missing most of last season due to a back injury and has established himself as a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year consideration.
On track for unrestricted free agency in the offseason, Lopez spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about his future and expressed a desire to remain in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future.
“I love it here,” Lopez said on Monday. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity the Bucks gave me five years ago to come here and be a part of something special. We’ve had a great time. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Lopez spent the first nine years of his NBA career with the Nets, then was a Laker for a single season in 2017/18. He signed as a free agent with the Bucks in the summer of 2018 and has been with the franchise since then, earning an All-Defensive nod in 2020 and winning a championship in 2021 as Milwaukee’s starting center.
Lopez is no longer the 20-point-per-game scorer he was during his New Jersey and Brooklyn days, but he’s having one of the best seasons of his career in 2022/23, averaging 14.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.6 BPG on .505/.381/.788 shooting through 39 games (30.3 MPG).
As Scotto details, Lopez leads the NBA in contested shots and total blocks as the anchor of a Bucks defense that ranks third in the league in defensive rating (109.4). Teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday advocated on Monday for Lopez’s Defensive Player of the Year candidacy and the big man admitted that he has thought about winning the award.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” Lopez told Scotto. “Obviously, I’m a team-first player who wants the team to be successful. We want to win a championship. That’s our main goal. It definitely would be a personal point of pride for me, and it’s a goal for myself.”
Lopez, who is earning approximately $13.9MM in the final season of the four-year contract he signed with Milwaukee in 2019, will remain extension-eligible until June 30. The Bucks would probably be reluctant to sign the 34-year-old to a long-term deal, but tacking a year or two onto his current contract seems viable.
If he were to sign an in-season extension, Lopez would be eligible for a 20% raise on this year’s salary, with 8% raises for any additional years beyond that. That would work out to $16.7MM for a one-year extension or $34.7MM over two years.
If he were to wait until free agency, Lopez would be eligible to earn any amount up to the max (projected to be $46.9MM in 2023/24), though it’s unrealistic to think he’d get an offer worth anywhere close to that amount at age 35, even after a strong season.