Salmons says he'll turn focus to contract after season ends

Atlanta — John Salmons is putting his focus on the present and trying to help the Milwaukee Bucks in their first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

But he understands there are questions about his future in Milwaukee and whether he will sign an extension with the Bucks or choose to become a free agent this summer. The 30-year-old Salmons has a $5.8 million player option for next season, which led the Chicago Bulls to deal him to the Bucks at the February trade deadline.

Salmons has the right to opt out of the final year of his contract when the Bucks' postseason run concludes. If he chooses not to opt out right away, the Bucks would retain exclusive rights to negotiate with him in the interim period.

Prospective free agents have until June 30 to declare their intentions and may not negotiate with other teams until July 1, when the league's free agency period begins. It promises to be an active summer with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh among the players available.

Salmons has increased his value in the last two months by helping the Bucks reach the playoffs and averaging 19.9 points in 30 regular-season games with Milwaukee. The Bucks went 22-8 after Salmons arrived in a Feb. 18 deal that sent the expiring contracts of Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander to the Bulls, who are looking to make a free-agent splash in the off-season.

"Definitely I'm not going to worry about that now," Salmons said before the Bucks played Atlanta in Game 2 of their playoff series Tuesday. "I just want to finish off the playoffs and go as far as we possibly can, win as many games as we can.

"After the season, I'll sit down with my agent (Joel Bell) and my family, pray on it and see what happens."

Salmons said he would be open to staying with the Bucks even if he decides to opt out and test his value in free agency.

It's clear he has enjoyed his time with the Bucks and playing for coach Scott Skiles, and Salmons has fit well with rookie point guard Brandon Jennings and fifth-year center Andrew Bogut.

"We appreciate what John has done for our organization and we appreciate his efforts," Bucks general manager John Hammond said. "We will continue to explore all options and opportunities with John and his representative as we move forward."

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