Robin Lopez has solidified the Milwaukee Bucks’ center depth this season. Is it possible he’ll extend his stint in Milwaukee by picking up his player option for the 2020-21 NBA season?
As the 2019-20 NBA season nears on two weeks since being suspended due to the coronavrius outbreak, so too has the Milwaukee Bucks’ chase for an NBA title.
Suddenly, all Bucks players are now forced to think about their future in the event that the season doesn’t eventually pick up, even as the NBA commissioner and all owners around the league maintain their hope that it does. That’s certainly the case for veteran Bucks center, Robin Lopez.
Lopez arrived to Milwaukee last summer and stood as one of the team’s few veteran additions after signing a two-year deal for nearly $10 million not long into the start of free agency.
Included in that pact was essentially a $5 million player option that Lopez will have the choice of picking up for the second year of the deal, which the 31-year-old would have had to decide on by June 29, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
That decision is only one of many that is affected by the suspension of this NBA season and surely a new date will be arranged, in the event that the year does resume if possible.
While we all cling to any hope that this season will continue on as planned, and a general sense of normalcy will return, the bigger question in regard to Lopez’s player option relates to how this break could affect his decision, whenever that is due to come.
As many salary cap experts have noted in the wake of the season being suspended, the ramifications of this break will have an immeasurable impact on the league’s salary cap and financial projections for the remainder of this year and beyond. And with each passing day in this new reality, we’ll get a better sense of how this will affect the NBA moving forward.
While that hangs over Lopez, the prospect of being a veteran center hitting the open market has been an increasingly unsettling reality in the NBA over the last few years.
As the landscape of today’s NBA shifts toward greater athleticism and versatility at the center position, the money and overall options for more traditional centers in the vein of Lopez have gradually disappeared. The current circumstances we’re dealing with will only exacerbate what will be available to big men weighing their options and playing futures in the league.
From that standpoint, the sense of security Lopez already has in place under his current contract with the Bucks may be the deciding factor when forced to think about his next move and future now and in the summer.
Of course, the role Lopez has with the Bucks has solidified the team’s center rotation, as well as strengthened their interior defense, which is the linchpin to the defensive scheme head coach Mike Budenholzer has built since his arrival to Milwaukee nearly two years ago. And Lopez has been able to show off some previously unseen skills, such as his floor spacing as he’s knocked in 34.4 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.
Even as superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s supermax decision that will come this summer will affect the team’s long-term trajectory, there’s no reason to think that Lopez can’t expect the Bucks won’t resume contending for an NBA title next season either. Again, whenever that will be and start remains to be seen.
The current coronavirus outbreak has forced us all to put things in perspective as well we all brace for how this pandemic will affect our livelihood and our overall future. That’s no different from how Lopez will decide will whether he will pick up his player option for next season.