It wasn’t the biggest surprise of the night, but most Milwaukee Bucks fans didn’t see it coming. We were all expecting for Brook Lopez to be retained...but few would have imagined that his twin brother Robin Lopez would be added to the mix. Shams Charania had the rumor, and Chris Haynes brought it home:
Free agent center Robin Lopez has reached an agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2019
Matt Velazquez later came through to provide the details on the contract we all were eager to learn; surely Robin Lopez, a big, burly center who doesn’t stretch the floor the same way as his short-haired brother, would come at a minimum-level price. Well...
League source confirms the @ChrisBHaynes report that the Bucks are signing Robin Lopez using their full Room exception ($4.8 million). It's a two-year deal with a player option in the second year.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) July 1, 2019
There are two ways to look at this deal. On the one hand, the replacement level value for centers is much higher than most other positions, meaning that a quality contributor can usually be found for a lower price. In this case, using the Room MLE (the Bucks’ only non-minimum exception) on a center might feel like a bit much, especially when you consider that Robin simply isn’t a shooter the way Brook is.
On the other hand, Robin does provide certain elements at center that the Bucks didn’t have (outside of twin brother Brook) on defense. Robin Lopez is a heady player who makes contributions that aren’t necessarily captured in the box score. His presence all but guarantees that the Bucks will remain a top-tier team rebounding squad, and Mike Budenholzer has the option of playing 40+ minutes with a Lopez on the floor. How he manages to do that without sacrificing space for Giannis Antetokounmpo remains to be seen, but he won Coach of the Year for a reason...as did Jon Horst with Executive of the Year.
It doesn’t feel like a home run hit by any means, but the Bucks deserve at least some consideration for knowing what they’re doing by now.