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Hem and Haw No Longer, Spencer Hawes Opts in to Player Option

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The long-haired stretch 5 will make a little over $6 million next year

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After much discussion last year over the glut of centers crowding the backend of Milwaukee’s roster, it appears we can start to tidy up those old arguments and begin the bickering anew this season. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, Spencer Hawes will officially opt-in to his $6 million dollar player option for next season. His opt-in deadline was conveniently today, so he waited about as long as possible before coming to a conclusion.

The stretchy center who stepped out and hit some threes for Milwaukee last season is a good bet to remain the nominal third option this season barring some leap from John Henson (HAHAHA). While Milwaukee wasn’t positioned to make any major moves in free agency regardless of Hawes decision, he will make it pretty tight for the Bucks to slip under the luxury tax should they re-sign Tony Snell. They’ll only have about $9 million to operate below the tax line now, and that’s not accounting for whatever contract they sign 2nd-round pick Sterling Brown to, whenever he finally arrives in town.

That should provide extra incentive for the organization to try and offload a contract like Henson’s that’s essentially dead weight at this point. They’ve known that for some time though and been unsuccessful in their pursuit. Attaching a pick as a sweetener may be necessary, but parting with anything more valuable than a second rounder would seem like a misstep. This is also where the lower salary cap projection of $99 million starts to illustrate some of its smaller effects on teams that went on shopping sprees last season. Every bit counts for championship teams trying to fit players under the cap, but it’s also vital for smaller market teams not even close to championship contention to avoid paying the tax.

Hawes decision may not dramatically impact the on-court product, but it has more prominent ripple effects organizationally. Realistically, Hawes should only play spot minutes given he basically lost his rotational spot to Thon Maker’s emergence in the playoffs. He’ll provide a suitable third big, but it’s hard to not wish that spot was just occupied by taking a flier on some minimum contract player.