The Milwaukee Bucks are fresh off a championship win and are looking to repeat as NBA champs this season. The Bucks have been one of the league’s best franchises over the past few years and are always looking to improve. Current Bucks management has shown their willingness to make the team better even if it costs them some young talent or draft capital. However, no one has really talked about trading the Bucks’ second-best player… Khris Middleton.
Middleton is an All-Star level player, don’t get me wrong. But there are some improved options out there as co-stars to Giannis Antetokounmpo. So, is there really any reason why the Bucks shouldn’t be looking to trade Middleton if they can acquire someone better? Let’s look at all possible reasons why Milwaukee should look to trade him in the coming years.
Does Middleton’s play really equal his pay?
Khris Middleton has made back-to-back All-Star teams and is averaging 19.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 5.3 apg this season. However, that doesn’t mean that his excellent play is equaling what the Bucks are paying him. After this season, Middleton only has two years left on his current contract and he’ll be turning 31 years old in August. His cap hit for those two seasons will be $37.9 million in 2022-2023, and that price jumps to $40.3 million in the 2023-2024 season. Is Middleton really worth it?
For example, Sacramento Kings player Domantas Sabonis is currently averaging 18 ppg, 12 rpg, and 5.1 apg. However, over the next two years, Sabonis’s cap hit is only $18.5 million and $19.4 million. Another instance of a player overperforming their salary is Miles Bridges. Bridges is currently averaging 20 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 3.6 apg while also playing good defense. Bridges’ cap hit is only $5 million right now, but he’s a free agent in 2022. These are just a few examples of players performing better than Middleton who are being paid much less.
There are a plethora of options the Bucks could acquire in a trade who would be better now and in the future than Khris Middleton. It just depends on if Milwaukee wants to get rid of their longtime fan-favorite player for good.
Multiple players need extensions soon
As stated earlier, the Bucks are set to pay Khris Middleton a huge amount in the next two years, and it could lead to some big decisions. Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton are both free agents this coming offseason, and will draw very good sized offers from teams looking for depth and bench help. Portis will draw the most intrigue because he could start for many NBA teams currently. If the Bucks do decide to keep paying Middleton, will they have enough to bring back Portis and Connaughton? That remains to be seen.
However, do not underestimate GM Jon Horst’s methods. Some other Bucks players might have to be casualties to be able to resign their key best players. Examples include Brook Lopez, George Hill, or even Pat Connaughton. I don’t believe the Bucks want to part with Portis or Connaughton, but they also need to be looking at possible trades for Khris Middleton.
There are better options
I believe that there are many players the Bucks could trade Middleton for who are better than him, or who are younger and bring the same production. However, there are only a limited number of guys that would fit right into the Bucks’ system. Here are the best options, in my opinion:
- Domantas Sabonis- Sacramento Kings
- Miles Bridges- Charlotte Hornets
- John Collins- Atlanta Hawks
- Mikal Bridges and Javale McGee (Package deal with the Phoenix Suns)
One more thing…
There’s one more trade option I’ve thought of that the Bucks should explore, but won’t. I believe that due to the fact that the Portland Trailblazers are in rebuild mode, they should make a package offer for Damian Lillard. Packaging Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, along with some picks or young players, would probably be the only option, but it could be worth it. Lillard is a deadly scorer and is arguably one of the most clutch players of all-time. The Bucks would be losing perimeter defense in Holiday and Middleton, but I believe that Milwaukee’s defense, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, could still be dominant.
Just imagine teaming up Damian Lillard with a Finals-MVP in Giannis. It feels like a perfect fit, doesn’t it? Imagine the pick-and-roll possibilities with these two top-10 NBA players. If this trade did happen, the league would be put on major notice.
In the end, I do believe that the Bucks’ front office should be looking to trade Khris Middleton in the coming years. He’s getting older, and there are many examples of better and cheaper players than Middleton. Bucks fans don’t want to even entertain the idea of trading him, but the NBA is a business and GMs will usually do anything they can to improve their team.
Who knows? Maybe trading Khris Middleton brings the Bucks an even better player who is able to win multiple championships with Giannis and Co.
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