Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton opts out, rumored to want a long-term stay with the Bucks

TORONTO, CA - MAY 21: (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CA - MAY 21: (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Unsurprisingly, Khris Middleton has opted out of his player option and will reportedly work toward a long-term deal with the Milwaukee Bucks as an unrestricted free agent.

Thursday’s NBA Draft will be the focus for most Milwaukee Bucks fans, but a significant piece of news in terms of the franchise’s free agency outlook emerged on Wednesday afternoon.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Khris Middleton has reportedly opted out of his $13 million player option for next season, and will become an unrestricted free agency. That move was essentially inevitable as Middleton has long outperformed the value of that deal, and was close to a lock to pursue a pay rise this summer.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Although Middleton will now be free to talk to other teams around the NBA when free agency opens on June 30, his decision to opt out doesn’t offer any indication that he will be playing elsewhere next season.

In fact, per Wojnarowski, the Bucks and Middleton are mutually eager to work toward coming to terms on a new deal, which may see Middleton secure as much as five-year, max contract from Milwaukee.

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Having enjoyed a career year in many regards, and also earning the first All-Star appearance of his career, Middleton couldn’t have timed his free agency any better and will be rewarded handsomely as a result.

Middleton’s role in the Bucks’ success this season has also further cemented his importance to the organization, and his status as a key player on the first Milwaukee team in decades to win 60 games and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals can’t be overlooked.

Still, Middleton remains a polarizing player among many fans, in large part due to the high variance elements that can be found in his play. At his best, Middleton undeniably looks like a true second star and looks very much deserving of a max contract. Unfortunately, Middleton is prone to streaky bouts of form, meaning there are spells where he greatly underperforms the kind of status and production associated with star players.

Regardless, the challenges the Bucks are facing in free agency, along the lack of alternative and realistic signings at the same level to many of Milwaukee’s core players hitting the market makes keeping Middleton increasingly important.

The Bucks can’t afford for a major drop-off in the year leading up to a potential super-max offer to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and as such, it seems safe to assume Middleton will get what he wants in free agency and remain with the Bucks for years to come.

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There’s a chance that he may well accept an offer that falls slightly below the max, but either way I would expect Middleton and the Bucks to come to terms on a new deal very quickly. It could even be the first deal reported when free agency opens, which is something the Bucks have made a habit of down the years.