When he’s healthy, Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton is a solid second scorer. He has an excellent all-around game. He’s been a lightning rod for controversy for many Bucks fans, but without him Milwaukee wouldn’t have won a title, and no less an icon than Magic Johnson has flagged Middleton as a player vital to the Bucks’ title run this year.
So why is he about to become an expiring contract?
The Khris Middleton Injury Saga
The answer, of course, is injuries. Middleton’s balky knee remains an tiresome story for Bucks fans, but at least he’s stayed off the injury list report so far in his new rehab bench role.
His post-injury shakedown cruise continues to be a huge story, but the real intrigue starts after the season. The Bucks desperately need to get younger without doing a rebuild to capitalize on the rest of Giannis’s prime years.
Using Middleton’s $40.4 million player option for 2023-24 would be one of the few ways to do it.
Given Middleton’s inability to get and stay healthy, the chances of him turning down option are slim and none. And the Bucks are unlikely to extend him, “unlikely” being the most polite word we can think of for “not gonna happen.”
Could the Bucks Trade Middleton?
So what do they do with him? Well, there are always bottom-feeder teams who suck up expiring contracts for financial purposes–e.g., think the Thunder the last couple of years. And there’s always some hidden talent on those rosters.
What might Milwaukee get in return? Other small market teams like the Thunder stockpile young talent—that’s what they do. They may not be stars yet, but they’ve had some experience. Plus they clean up nicely when the goal is to clean up a roster.
The Thunder aren’t the only possibility, of course. Trade options will be out there this summer, especially if Middleton proves he can stay healthy.
He could end up being Kemba Walker (i.e., a player who’s knee injuries have turned him into a liability), but he’s definitely not Russell Westbrook. He’s always been a team guy whose game is more about winning than numbers.
No one wants to talk about any of this with the playoffs on the horizon, but Middleton will be in the eye of a summer contract storm. And what the Bucks do about it will go a long way toward determining their fortunes, both next season and beyond.
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