The first domino has leaped, arms extended, and tumbled into the crowd on this Milwaukee Bucks offseason, as Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Pat Connaughton has opted into his $5.7M 2022-23 player option.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton is exercising his $5.7 million option to return for the 2022-2023 season, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2022
The news seems like a complete shock to me, and I’d guess most Bucks fans, who were likely under the impression Connaughton would opt out and seek a longer-term deal in Milwaukee with more guaranteed money. Instead, he’ll return on a cheaper deal that (no, I don’t care about billionaires but the luxury tax is an unfortunate reality) will likely lighten the luxury tax load on the overall roster. With Bobby Portis likely opting out to sign a longer, likely higher paying deal with Milwaukee, it was assumed the team would have to pony up a bit more cash to keep both Portis and Pat on the team for the foreseeable future.
If you were curious about why Pat would be doing this, John Hollinger explains that it could be part of an impending extension to keep Connaughton in Milwaukee through the rest of the prime of his role-playing career.
One possibility to explain Connaughton -- he and Bucks eligible to sign an extension next month starting as high as ~$12M a year and going as long as 4 years; so the opt-in could be part of a bigger play here.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 22, 2022
Regardless, this seems like a win for Milwaukee. It gives them a bit more flexibility in the short-term to see what they can pull together this offseason while retooling, and an impending extension seemed likely anyway given all the good vibes we’ve seen from Pat on this team. That longer deal in the aggregate may raise some eyebrows, but Milwaukee has to be in asset-retaining mode right now with players they can keep via Bird Rights, and Connaughton proved himself more than capable of contributing on a Championship team. Stay tuned for more Bucks draft and free agency news in the days ahead.