Khris Middleton Free Agent Rumors: Can Bucks Afford Max Contract?

Getty Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks lays in a shot against Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo deservedly gets the main press for the Bucks, but Khris Middleton has bolstered his value with a solid 2018-19 season. The former 2nd-round pick out of Texas A&M averages 18.3 points, 6 rebounds and 4.3 assists on the year.

The 6-foot-8, 222-pounder has reached double figures in each game of this Eastern Conference 1st Round against the Pistons, scoring 44 points in the last 2 wins combined. His visibility is on the verge of skyrocketing, as Milwaukee is favored to make its first NBA Finals since 1974.

He makes good money with the small-market Bucks, as the 27-year old in the 4th-year of a 5-year, $70 million contract. He earned $13 million this season and could execute a player option this offseason to place himself on the free agent market.

Let’s take a look at his potential options this offseason.

Khris Middleton Free Agent Rumors

With his All-Star appearance this season, Middleton’s value is rising to the point that he’s considered a lock to receive a max contract wherever he goes. According to Zach Lowe at ESPN, he’s not going to budge from that position to stay in Milwaukee, who likely can’t afford it.

The Bucks know they might have to pay $30 million per season to keep Middleton. “Does he love Milwaukee enough to re-sign?” Lasry asks. “Yes. Enough to give us a real discount? No.”

The Bucks are expected to have just $5 million in extra cap space this offseason, so they would have to dump a contract like George Hill’s ($18 million) to even get close to being able to afford it.

With that said, it was reported by an anonymous Bucks official back in December that Milwaukee won’t give up on bringing him back that easy.

“We’re gonna do everything we can to keep him,” the official said to Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill.

The only other options cropping up are the Lakers and Hornets. Middleton is not seen as the first option for Los Angeles. They would rather grab Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson, according to Ron Gutterman of Lakers Nation.

There are whispers around the league that neither Jimmy Butler nor Kawhi Leonard wants to play with LeBron, and sources I’ve talked to would be shocked if Klay Thompson left Golden State. That might leave the Lakers with Walker or Middleton as their top remaining free-agent targets. If I’m the Hornets, that possibility would have me worried.

That was based on speculation from Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer.

Middleton jokingly eliminated the Cavaliers as a future destination, citing his dislike for the city of Cleveland in an interview with Kristin Leahy.

VideoVideo related to khris middleton free agent rumors: can bucks afford max contract?2019-04-22T19:40:52-04:00

Also in the clip, Middleton emphasized that his first priority is winning. He has that in Milwaukee right now. He may have it in Los Angeles if the Lakers combine him with fellow All-Star LeBron James, while the Hornets barely missed on the playoffs this season.

My two cents? Klay Thompson and/or Kevin Durant have been rumored to be leaving Golden State this summer, which leaves an open slot for Middleton to head to the Bay Area. He would be getting a winner that would have free cap space with either of its stars leaving the payroll.

We’ll find out more come June when the real season transitions to the mad dash during free agency.