ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — With eight players either entering free agency or with options for next season, the Milwaukee Bucks will have a lot of decisions to make before training camp rolls around in the fall.
One of those decisions will have to be made on veteran small forward Mike Dunleavy, a valuable piece of Milwaukee’s roster the past two seasons. Though he is free to sign with any team in the league, Dunleavy is open to returning to the Bucks.
“My contract is up, so I’m going to have to figure out where that leaves me,” Dunleavy said. “I haven’t really given a lot of thought to it. As you go through the regular season and playoffs, you just aren’t thinking about that.
“But it is up in the air. I like being here, I grew up here, I signed as a free agent here. I’m willing to come back. We’ll see. I have to talk to the team and see what they want to do.”
After spending the first nine years of his career with Golden State and Indiana, the son of former Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Milwaukee following the 2011 lockout. The contract has turned out to be one of the bigger bargains in the NBA, as Dunleavy has averaged 11.2 points per game while making 41.6 percent of his 3-pointers as Milwaukee’s sixth man.
Though Dunleavy was still a big part of Milwaukee’s rotation this season, his minutes were sometimes cut after J.J. Redick was acquired from Orlando and the Bucks were essentially trying to work four guards into the rotation.
“I’ve enjoyed it, I’m happy that I signed here two seasons ago,” Dunleavy said. “This year, I think everybody knows was tougher. The group and just the whole thing, it was just a tough year. That’s just part of the business. You have to stay professional and perform every night. I tried to do that to the best of my ability.”
For now, Dunleavy, 32, plans to return to his home in New York and wait to see what happens with his free agency. Even if he has played his last game in a Bucks uniform, the franchise will always have a place in his heart.
“From my standpoint, especially with this organization, I’m always trying to help,” Dunleavy said. “I grew up here, my dad coached here. I grew up a Bucks fan. It means a lot to me, regardless of what team I’m playing for, regardless if I’m active or retired. I’ll always want the Bucks to do well.”