At long last, we have resolution to the age-old question, “Is Khris Middleton worth a max?” To the Milwaukee Bucks at least, the answer is apparently yes, according to a report from Woj.
Once free agency opens at 6 PM, All-Star Khris Middleton plans to return to the Milwaukee Bucks on a five-year, $178M contract, league sources tell ESPN. The deal is expected to include a player option on final year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Coming off the first All-Star season of his career, Middleton wielded plenty of leverage in negotiations given the Bucks’ limited avenues to replace him with superior talent. For some time now, this has seemed inevitable. With Milwaukee’s unprecedented success this season, coupled with newly minted NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impending opportunity to sign a supermax contract, the Bucks bringing back their second best player appeared to be the obvious choice. The question, of course, has always been at what dollar figure. It’s important to note that the absolute max Khris could have made was around $190M, meaning that Middleton did indeed take a discount (even if it doesn’t feel that way.)
Can confirm the @wojespn report that Khris Middleton plans to return to the Bucks on a five-year deal worth $178 million.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) June 30, 2019
This deal is for the maximum number of years but not the maximum amount of money.
With max raises, salary would be expected to start at ~$30.7 million.
Now, that query is settled. Will he live up to the dollar amount? If he did, I’d consider that a huge win for a Milwaukee organization that has always prided itself on taking care of its guys. That philosophy has gotten them in trouble in the past though, prizing internal stability and banking on improvement/meshing of their core guys (see Miles Plumlee, Tony Snell and John Henson) only to have to offload those contracts later. Middleton may never quite reach the heights associated with his massive payday, but losing him also wouldn’t have left Milwaukee with many such options to improve, particularly this offseason. He has been a willing number two, a versatile offensive player with the capability to score when Bud’s system broke down. His defensive value, occasionally slighted in recent years, vaulted back up with his admirable performance against Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs.
For a team whose foundation is rooted in “pass, dribble, shoot,” few players exemplify and excel at those guiding principles quite like Khris Middleton. Whatever your feelings on the signing, Middleton will officially be part of this team’s core for the foreseeable future and during the duration of the prime of his career. Fingers crossed his tenure coincides with a championship-level partnership alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.