Brook Lopez: Welcome to Milwaukee

An intriguing offseason for the Bucks just had another interesting development in the form of a second veteran signing. After signing Ersan Ilyasova to a three-year, $21 million contract (only two years guaranteed), Milwaukee dipped back into the experienced big man market to snag Brook Lopez. The Bucks already field a large crop of centers, but the addition of Lopez hints at what the next developments may be.

Unlike a few years back, when players like Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, and others signed lucrative four-year deals, this offseason has, by comparison, seen short, cheap deals handed out. Lopez is no different, with his contract being for a single year at $3.38 million. That’s a bit of a steal if you compare it to Lopez’s salary over the last three seasons, which averaged just over $21 million per year.

New Bucks’ center Brook Lopez
Coming in at 7 feet, 270 pounds, Lopez is a 30 year old big man who has proven over the past few years that you can in fact teach an old dog new tricks. For much of his career, Lopez was a low post, back to the basket scorer, a role he proved quite capable in. However, as any basketball fan knows, the three point line has become a crucial part of the modern game. After hitting 3-of-31 three point attempts in his first eight seasons combined, Lopez shot an incredible 246-of-712 (34.5%) from three the past two seasons. That may be the most abrupt and impressive shot development in NBA history. The downside of Lopez is he’s never been a dominating rebounder, averaging no more than 7.8 rebounds per game in any season over the past eight years. That’s not to say he’s a poor rebounder, but it’s not the greatest of his skills.

So, what does the move do for Milwaukee? For one, it gives the team a center who can shoot from deep and who also has the size to body up opposing players down low. Put differently, he can space the floor as well if not better than Thon Maker (barring Thon’s shooting numbers increase this year) and occupy the area near the basket like John Henson or Tyler Zeller. It makes the offense a bit more potent without weakening the defense, so long as Lopez is on the court. The move most likely means that Tyler Zeller’s time in Milwaukee has come to an end as well since his contract is non-guaranteed and there simply isn’t enough minutes to stretch between four centers.

Brook Lopez flashes three fingers after making a shot from deep.
While the addition of Lopez does improve the center position and the team as a whole without locking the club into a long-term deal with an aging player, the contract does have an impact on Jabari Parker’s future with the team (admittedly the impact is slight). Lopez’s contract means that the Bucks can only offer Parker $11 million for the upcoming season. If the team were to waive all players on non-guaranteed deals then they could offer as much as $15 million for the upcoming year and beyond. Recent deals suggest that Parker’s deal could fall in the $15 million range, but an outside offer larger than that would leave the Bucks helpless to match without dumping salary via trade.

On the whole, the addition of Brook Lopez undoubtedly makes the Bucks better and improves the center position, though how large of an impact it ultimately has remains to be seen. But one-year, $3.82 million for Lopez? That’s a move worth making and a risk worth taking.


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