ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Pat Connaughton will exercise his player option for the 2022-2023 season and return to the Milwaukee Bucks. The news comes as a bit of a shock, as many expected that Connaughton would opt out of his contract and test free agency. Connaughton has spent the last four seasons in Milwaukee and now has confirmed that he will be there for at least one more.
Reactions to Pat Connaughton exercising his player option and returning to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022-2023
Fans have taken a complete 180-degree turn on how they view Pat Connaughton over the last two years.
After the team was bounced in the bubble, Connaughton was set to become a free agent. Many fans wanted the bubble to be the last that they would ever see from Connaughton, following a poor performance in the playoffs. Instead, the team re-signed Connaughton to a three-year, $16 million contract. The news was not well-received by fans at the time, as many were puzzled as to why the Bucks would give so much money to a player that at the time, was very inconsistent in the biggest moments.
Connaughton has since emerged as one of the team’s most important role players. The Bucks would not have won the NBA Championship in 2021 without Connaughton’s meaningful contributions. If there’s one thing that I never thought would happen in my life, it would be hearing Mike Breen give his signature “Bang!” call to Pat Connaughton in the NBA Finals. However, that is exactly what happened late in Game 4 of the series. With a little over 3 minutes to play, Connaughton buried a three to put the Bucks up by two and was a recipient of Breen’s signature call.
For the series, Connaughton nailed 15 threes, which was second on the team, only behind Khris Middleton. He also finished second on the team in three-point percentage in the series, trailing only P.J. Tucker, per NBA.com/stats.
Connaughton’s return could be a part of tying him to the Bucks in the long-run. John Hollinger of The Athletic reports that Connaughton is eligible to negotiate an extension with the Bucks next month. The extension could be for up to 4 years and go up to $12 million per year. I’m all for giving Connaughton a big day because he has most definitely earned it.
Part of this move by Connaughton may be in order to give the team the flexibility to sign other free agents, while also maintaining the ability to lock him up long-term. If that is the case, then it’s a very generous move by Connaughton, who would have definitely received a much bigger pay day than his $5.7 million player option in free agency.
Connaughton’s impact on the team in recent years has been tremendous, and he has evolved from a player that fans wanted gone, to one that is viewed as one of the most critical players to help the team contend. It’s great that he enjoys being in Milwaukee just as much as Milwaukee enjoys having him. It’ll be exciting to see what Connaughton is able to do in the future with the Bucks.
Stay tuned to see what other news comes out of the 2022 offseason for the Bucks.