The Bucks have demonstrated their awareness that on-court success breeds off-the-court dilemmas. While earning home-court advantage in the NBA Playoffs with a 60-22 record, the goal for the franchise going forward is two-fold: win the franchise’s first NBA title since 1971 and maintain a burgeoning roster for the future.
Both parts are looking good this spring. Milwaukee is rampaging through the Eastern Conference 1st Round with 3 double-digit victories over the Pistons with one game to go to finish the sweep (tonight, 8 p.m. EST, TNT).
The other part was addressed in March, as Milwaukee extended point guard Eric Bledsoe’s contract by 4 years and $70 million. After earning $15 million this season, he’s set to see his salary increase to $19.375 million by 2022-23.
This commitment to the former 1st round pick out of Kentucky could go a long way in securing most of this potential championship roster for the long haul. Let’s take a look at the potential chess moves from Milwaukee’s front office.
Eric Bledsoe Contract Extension and What it Means for Milwaukee’s Front Office
Milwaukee would have been staring down a potentially messy free agent situation without securing Bledsoe. Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic are all free agent options this summer, with Middleton likely demanding a max contract after making his first All-Star Game this season.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation talks about how the Bledsoe signing changes the perception of the potentially losing Middleton once free agency starts on July 1.
One presumes that Bucks general manager Jon Horst will be focused on locking up Middleton quickly, as the first-time all-star has been a popular name in armchair free agent war gaming. Wings who can defend multiple positions and hit a high volume of threes have never been more popular, and Middleton is so perfect with Antetokounmpo that Milwaukee would be loathe to lose him.
Dealing with Bledsoe now avoids any messy perception issues on July 1. Now, Middleton might end up too expensive for the Bucks to justify given the coming huge contract for Antetokounmpo and other positional needs. But getting a discount on Bledsoe could help Milwaukee justify overpaying for Middleton to keep everyone named Giannis happy.
Bledsoe also provides stability at the point guard situation. Milwaukee will more than likely dump 32-year old George Hill’s $18 million contract next season, and the other option is rookie guard Donte DiVicenzo. The latter is more of a pull-up shooter and a combo guard than a pure point.
Bledsoe has put together a solid 15.9 points and 5.5 assists per game. That includes a 27-point outburst in the Game 2 victory over the Pistons.
He works well with Lopez and Giannis Antetokoumpo on the pick-and-roll, while also providing the excellent slashing ability expected out of all former Kentucky point guards.
Bledsoe guarantees a well-oiled offense for 2019-20. If Milwaukee can also retain Malcolm Brodgon, while getting production out of DiVicenzo when he returns from his foot injury, next year’s offense shouldn’t skip a beat without Middleton.