Report: Bucks and Middleton agree to five years, $70 million

Khris Middleton better have his press conference clothes ready for mid-July (when deals can officially be signed). According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time in locking up the restricted free agent Middleton.

For a variety of reasons, the 23-year-old Middleton’s return to Milwaukee was never really in doubt. He had success in Milwaukee. He was a restricted free agent. The Bucks wanted him back. All of the writing was on the wall.  The Bucks were flush with cap room when free agency began, somewhere between $16-$18 million, which will still allow them to aggressively pursue other free agent options before officially re-signing Middleton. Milwaukee can exceed the cap to bring back Middleton.

Since joining the Bucks in what originally was seen as the Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight trade, Middleton has developed into a very reliable wing player. He’s proven capable both of being a reliable outside shooting threat and a trustworthy defender, which explains wy Milwaukee made his return a priority. 

Drafted in 2012, Middleton played in only 27 games as a rookie in Detroit. He couldn’t have timed his arrival in Milwaukee better, as the Bucks limped through their worst season in franchise history in 2013-14, allowing him ample minutes and offensive freedom. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists and started 64 games.

Last season, under Jason Kidd, Middleton got off to a rocky start that saw him benched during a game in Detroit. He bounced back and continued developing into a reliable two-way wing. Advanced stats were very kind to his work. He finished 10th in the NBA in ESPN’s Real Plus Minus. Simply when watching him you could see a player getting better and adding more to his game. As the season went on he began flashing the ability to take smaller players into the post. The deal itself is no surprise and one that could be of great value as the NBA salary cap continues to rise.

The deal seems about right. The fit is still good. He’ll likely slide into the starting lineup next season alongside Michael Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and whoever Milwaukee ends up with at the center position.

So far, day one of free agency has worked out as well as the Bucks could have hoped.

Categories: The Off Season

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12 Comments

  1. One of the worst photos you could get of him! LMBO really, what is the face he is making. But jokes aside he is a great asset and I’m glad we retained him going forward. People aresaying he is worth more than Jimmy Butler. I think thats a good sign of potential, and a steal considering the salary cap change

    • Better than Jimmy Gets Buckets? Hmmm… not too sure about that, but I do think Middleton has proven he’ll a very good player and someone the Bucks needed to retain; hopefully, he continues to develop his game to the point where he is as good as if not better than Jimmy Butler.

  2. Great news.

    Now if Bucks can land one of the FA centers – even if it’s Robin Lopez that would allow them to avoid FA again until we have enough info. on Parker and Giannis to decide on our next moves in 2-3 years.

    But GOT to get a center this week while the cap is still lower. Monroe 1st choice. Chandler 2nd. Robin Lopez 3rd.

    If we lose all of them then maybe Kousta Koufas.

    • The big man we want may be right here with us already in Miles Plumlee, teaming up with John Henson at center.

      After skimming an article about Thomas Robinson of the Sixers at Grantland/ESPN, I wonder if he might be a guy to go after, with a trade if he’s not a free agent. As I remember him against the Bucks last season, he was a burly and beastly presence on the boards. I don’t know that much about him, including his offensive game and his character, but he was the #5 overall selection in the draft just a few years ago.

      • I’m pretty sure he’s a FA. Thomas Robinson is indeed a beastly rebounder and a decent rim protector who’s fairly young and has the athleticism to get even better in those two categories, but from what I’ve seen he hasn’t proven to have the basketball IQ to handle large stretches of playing time, doesn’t really have any offensive game whatsoever outside of ally-oops and put back dunks, plus he’s a notoriously bad FT shooter — noticeably worse than even D.Jordan. I think the Bucks could do better by going after Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn, Bismack Biyombo or signing T.Chandler to a short-term contract.

        • The nice thing about a Robinson, or an O’Quinn, is that they are still young and a possible bargain as far as potential/salary. I like the idea of finding diamonds in the rough, a la Khris Middleton and Danny Green.

          More on this below.

  3. I agree with rowe49: Great news. After looking at the other free agent signings, this looks like a nice deal for Khris, for the Bucks, and for us fans.

    Along with what Jeremy wrote about the development of Khris, I would add that he seemed to be improving in his ability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the hoop for good results. He’s still not to the level of a Jimmy Butler in this regard, but there are good signs that he’s getting there, or at least close.

    There doesn’t seem to be a real weakness in Khris’ game, although there’s a lot of room for improvement, and a ways to go if he’s truly to become a star in the NBA. If he can keep honing the outstanding shooting, and keep developing the passing and defense and all the other areas of being an NBA player, he could be someone especially special.

    What I like about Khris is that he seems to be a good, possibly even great, character guy — truly involved in each game, highly unselfish with his teammates, very determined to improve. I’m interested to learn what others see in this regard, including the staff at Bucksketball. It’s his character that really makes Khris worth the risk, even with his relative inexperience and need to continue to grow. He seems like a winner!

    In a good-natured way, I’d like to tweak Jeremy a bit about his apparent understated evaluation of Khris above, including his use of the world reliable — which seems somewhat of a tepid description. I’ve had a long-standing disagreement with Jeremy and others at Bucksketball about the play of Khris and his potential, with me making a much more enthusiastic assessment of Khris — although my main point has been to give him plenty of opportunity on the court, and not to relegate him too quickly to the status of a career role player (by which I mean just average, or a little above).

    Well, there are still a lot of question marks about Khris, and only time will tell. However, as this contract indicates, Khris has come along a lot further and faster than generally expected, even by me. Let’s hope his upward arc continues, and support him as a player and a person.

    It’s been great having Jeremy & Co. around to agree and disagree with for the past couple of seasons (and even longer for other fans coming to Bucksketball). To me, this signing of Khris is more hope for good things to come from the team that brings us all together at this site — Go Bucks!

    • Yeah, I remember those times when it seemed only you and I were the one advocating for K.Middleton to receive more playing time and noting that he looked like he could become more than just a bench role player. Also, I remember having several conversations with people mentioning how I could envision him becoming the starting SG (with good size) for the Bucks down the road even though Larry Drew was playing him as a tweener forward. Ahh, good times.

      I hope we’ll be right about J.Henson too.

      The only players we ever seemed to disagree about was B.Knight and K.Marshall. I think I was proven right for the most part that B.Knight was a very good basketball player and someone who was starting to show that he could indeed be a team’s Point Guard even as a scoring guard and not just an undersized two guard where he’d possibly create a defensive liability. And I have to admit that K.Marshall ended up being a better defensive player than I initially gave him credit for (still nothing spectacular, but not horrendous like I thought he’d be) and he was stellar at running the team’s offense from off the bench plus he provided a reliable outside shot as a floor spacer — not bad at all for a back-up PG.

      • It’s important to note that there have been fans at this site who have backed Khris and/or John Henson with good support, not just me. It might be interesting to go back in the archives the past couple of season, for anyone with the time and inclination. Regardless, in the present, it’s great to have Khris signed, and it would be even better to offer a nice contract to John as a way of showing a strong commitment to him as a player and person. I think they’re both the kind of people of talent and character we need for the Bucks to be a winner.

        I thought maybe Robinson at least had some untapped offensive potential evidenced by his days at Kansas, but I don’t know. I appreciate your take, L.. I’m intrigued by O’Quinn as a possibility of a pounder of the boards who may have a better offensive ceiling than Robinson.

        Also, L, for your sake and ours, I like the Spencer Hawes for Zaza trade.

        With Henson, Plumlee, Hawes and O’Quinn, we could have a talented group of bigs with at least a fair amount of flexibility.

        • Well, we can forgo the O’Quinn and Biyombo acquisitions now since we have The Moose, but I still think Hawes could be someone worth targeting as a floor spacer though it kind of sucks to think that he wouldn’t get much playing time. I imagine he’d see most of his court time as the primary back-up PF for the Bucks behind Parker, but with Henson and/or Plumlee both likely seeing some time backing up Monroe at Center I’m not sure how much court time he’d get — his minutes could lessened even more if the team went with a small lineup for match-up purposes; nevertheless, I’d still rather have him on the team over Pachulia in case of injuries and for his ability to stretch the floor at either the 5 or 4 spot.