ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — The Milwaukee Bucks have exercised their third-year contract option on small forward Tobias Harris and their fourth-year options on power forwards Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh.
General manager John Hammond announced the moves Wednesday, and they come as no surprise.
All three factor into Milwaukee’s plans this season and in the near future, so it makes sense to exercise their 2013-14 options a year ahead of time.
Acquired in a draft night trade in 2011, Harris played in 42 games during his rookie season and averaged 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Coming into his own during summer league play, Harris averaged 20.8 points per game and was named to that league’s all-star team. He has a chance to start for the Bucks this season.
“I’m definitely just grateful to the organization for giving me this opportunity,” Harris said on Wednesday. “It means a lot. … It’s definitely a measure to be proud of.”
Harris said he still needs to improve his defense, but he’s happy with the progress he made offensively this summer.
“My offense is going to be there, it’s going to come,” Harris said. “I feel like my defense has gotten a lot better. … I feel like I’ve really made a lot of strides in that area of my game.”
Sanders was selected 15th overall by the Bucks in the 2010 draft and has averaged 4.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 112 games with Milwaukee.
A part of the Andrew Bogut-Monta Ellis trade, Udoh came to the Bucks on March 13, 2012 and played in 23 games last season, averaging 5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.
Udoh said that, although so many big men are fighting for minutes, he knows his role is primarily a defensive one. On Wednesday, he was just happy to hear that the team liked what it saw in a limited time last season.
“It’s a great feeling,” Udoh said. “It’s a great day. … This shows they’re behind me 100 percent.”
Both Sanders and Udoh have been in the mix to start inside for the Bucks this season.
NBA teams have third- and fourth-year options on a player’s rookie contract after the first two years are guaranteed.