Milwaukee Bucks: Free agency contract predictions and primer

BOSTON, MA - MAY 3: (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 3: (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WI – MAY 15: (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images).
MILWAUKEE, WI – MAY 15: (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images). /

With free agency set to get underway on Sunday, here’s what you need to know about the contracts the Milwaukee Bucks could be set to dish out.

If you’re a Milwaukee Bucks fan, now would be a good time to prepare for one of the busiest and most important free agency periods in recent memory.

Following an excellent 60-win season that finished with a trip to the Conference Finals, only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe are currently locks to return in the Bucks’ starting lineup next season.

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The reason for that is Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez, along with key reserve George Hill, are all set to hit free agency. As timing goes, Middleton, Brogdon and Lopez couldn’t ask for much more as they face major pay rises following an excellent season.

From a team perspective, that leads to obvious challenges in managing the salary cap situation for the year ahead, even before considering the possibility of Antetokounmpo agreeing to a supermax extension next summer.

Luckily for the Bucks, general manager Jon Horst has been hard at work over the course of the season, preparing the team’s cap sheet for precisely this moment. In truth, that cap management likely contributed to Horst’s peers voting him as Executive of the Year at last week’s NBA Awards.

The process to increasing flexibility started when Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson‘s contracts were offloaded to Cleveland in December, and received another notable boost with the recent trade to send Tony Snell to Detroit.

The sum total of that work has to been to create the $12.6 million in cap space the Bucks currently possess heading into free agency. That amount may seem insignificant, but it’s far from it.

With Milwaukee holding Bird rights for Middleton and Brogdon, they are permitted to go over the salary cap to re-sign them. On the other hand, if the Bucks wanted to offer Brook Lopez or George Hill anything more than the room mid-level exception (approx. $4.7 million) or veteran minimum deals, opening up cap space was essential.

That need was particularly pressing in Lopez’s case, given his central role last season and the fact he’s a certainty to command a market that far exceeds the room exception.

If desired or necessary, either to open up more space or to reduce the potential tax hit, the Bucks could opt to stretch and waive the remaining year of the recently acquired Jon Leuer‘s deal. Valued at $9.5 million, Leuer’s salary could be stretched across three years to up Milwaukee’s total cap space to $19 million this season.

With that considered, the Bucks’ situation is undoubtedly challenging but very much workable. The Bucks have options and tools at their disposal, meaning they should be able to adjust to market factors to retain their core, and in a best case scenario they may even find themselves with some unexpected space to add another rotational piece.

Having outlined the general shape of Milwaukee’s position heading into free agency, let’s now take a closer took at the Bucks’ own four key free agents and how their contract situations will play out.