The Milwaukee Bucks and Khris Middleton have some decisions to make this offseason. Middleton has a player option for this season worth $40 million. The Bucks as a team have factored that into their salary cap (for now), but do not have much cap space and do not have a full roster. In other words, they need to shed some salary and sign some players. One way they can do that is by offering Middleton a contract extension in lieu of his $40 million option. But what would such a contract look like?
NBA Insider Suggests the Milwaukee Bucks Offer Khris Middleton $20-$25 Million Per Season
Let’s get one thing straight from onset, because it is important to understand: this is not the NBA of the 1990s and early 2000s. What was once an incredibly rich contract is now considered league average. I realize that there are a great deal of Bucks fans that do not like Middleton and think that even this kind of money is too much for him, but the reality of the NBA is that $20-25 million is the market value for a player of Middleton’s caliber.
John Hollinger of The Athletic ranked the top 25 free agents in the NBA this offseason, and Middleton came in at number eight. Hollinger even lists his market value as a little more than $25 million per year, but also suggests a couple of contract options that could help save the team money and sign more players:
“Middleton has a player option for $40.4 million, and there is no way he’s getting a salary like that on the open market. But this may be a situation where he and the Bucks can work out an arrangement that sees him opt out and re-sign a longer-term deal for lower dollars. First, that’s more in line with what Middleton’s value is these days after a couple of injury-wracked seasons, but second, the Bucks’ tax situation almost demands it.
“Getting Middleton’s salary down into the mid-$20-million range annually is what can allow Milwaukee to re-sign Brook Lopez (see below) and still remain below the first tax apron. A four-year deal in the $100 million range would be the equivalent of a three-year, $60 million extension but would potentially save the Bucks tens of millions in luxury tax in 2023-24.”
There is no reason to think that a deal like this is not in the works. After all, Middleton was the only other player aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo who was invited to the dinner meeting at which the owners and front office decided on Adrian Griffin as their new head coach. Middleton would not have been invited to such an important meeting that determined the future of the franchise unless he was also considered part of the franchise’s future.
Therefore, it is not a question of if Middleton signs a contract extension; it is a question of when (and for how much). Hopefully the two sides are able to reach a quick agreement. Brook Lopez is a free agent many would love to see back, and Chris Paul is soon to be a free agent as well. Each of them would likely have to take less money than they could get elsewhere to play in Milwaukee, even with Middleton taking a pay cut, too.
However, at this point in their careers, championships windows are closing. Perhaps the Bucks’ wide open title window will be enough to convince them a pay cut is worth it.