The Milwaukee Bucks had about as good of a regular season opener as they could have hoped. Sure, there are things that they need to improve upon, but Damian Lillard came as advertised, hitting a three-point dagger in the closing seconds to put the game out of reach.
Another positive about the Bucks’ opener was that their entire roster was healthy. Khris Middleton, a three-time All-Star and the franchise’s all-time three-pointers made leader, started the contest. However, he was limited to just 16 minutes and did not play in the second half.
As it turns out, Milwaukee is still ramping him up as he continues to work his way back from a devastating knee injury he suffered in the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls in 2022. The injury, along with its setbacks, caused him to miss most of the 2022-23 NBA season.
While he was able to play on Thursday, he will not be available for the Bucks’ next game on Sunday.
Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Adrian Griffin Says Khris Middleton Will Not Play Against the Atlanta Hawks
While the news may be met with dismay from Bucks fans, it is important to remember that Middleton had another knee procedure this offseason. He is not limited because of the original injury; he is limited because of the most recent procedure. Had he not had the procedure, he may not have been able to play at all this season.
According to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, Middleton was active in practice today, but will not be available on Sunday due to right knee injury management:
Griffin: “Right knee injury management, so we’ll be holding him off the first leg of that back-to-back, but he is expected to play in the Miami game. And this is just being smart and ramping him up gradually. But he participated in practice today and looked really good.” https://t.co/d1s8b0V27W
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) October 28, 2023
As Griffin notes, the reason Middleton is being held out of Sunday’s game is because the Bucks have a quick turnaround and play again on Monday night in Miami. Middleton will be playing against the Heat on the second night of their back-to-back.
Khris Middleton Signed a Lucrative Contract with the Milwaukee Bucks This Past Offseason
The Bucks did not bring in many new players via free agency this offseason. Rather, they spent most of their efforts re-signing their own players. Of course, the most recent and most important of these was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s three year extension that he signed prior to the start of the regular season.
However, prior to Giannis’ extension, many considered Middleton returning to the Bucks as their most important signing. The three-time All-Star signed a three-year contract worth $102 million to remain in Milwaukee. He had previously turned down his $40.3 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
While there were some who believed Middleton would leave Milwaukee, it was clear all offseason that he was going to stay. This was most evident when the ownership group and front office invited just two players to the table to discuss who should be hired as the next head coach. Of course, Giannis was one. The other was Middleton.