The Phoenix Suns made the obvious decision Thursday to pick up the fourth-year option on center Robin Lopez, keeping him under contract with the team through the 2011-12 season.
The Suns announced the move in a release Thursday afternoon, and the fact that the team didn’t exercise its 2011-12 option on forward Earl Clark has led some to speculate that they likely will not. Clark once again appears to be on the outside looking in on the Suns’ rotation this season, and if they do not end up picking up Clark’s he could become a free agent next summer.
Locking Lopez up for another year had to be an easy decision and I can’t imagine the team ever considered otherwise. Lopez took over the starting role last season and opens the season as a starter for the first time this year.
Though he often fell victim to his own physicality by getting into foul trouble, Lopez displayed his ability to play with NBA strength and provide a solid post presence for the Suns, one many believe could make Lopez a premier center in the NBA.
While Lopez’s 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game were not eye-popping numbers, his improvement was more important. The jump from year one to year two was huge, and the jump in year three could be even bigger.
Lopez will be counted on this season as the Suns’ primary rebounder and will certainly be expected to increase his offensive output after the departure of Amare Stoudemire.
Lopez will make $2.86 million in the 2011-12 season, quite a jump from the $1.87 million he’ll make this year.