Milwaukee Bucks: Why is Khris Middleton player option a talking point?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 19 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 19 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Khris Middleton is under contract with the Milwaukee Bucks through the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season. Following this year Khris Middleton has a player option for the 2023-24 season. In an interview that was published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required), Jim Owczarski sat down with Khris Middleton to discuss his last decade in Milwaukee and his future legacy.

When asked about how he is approaching his potential upcoming free agency, Khris Middleton listed a plethora of factors that will affect what he does concerning his 40.4 million dollar player option for the 2023-24 season but also said he has not made a decision on whether or not he will opt in or out of that option.

There has been a quote floating around, a snippet of this interview with Middleton that has some Milwaukee Bucks fans concerned:

"“I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay. But also, you know it’s a business. Things change, things happen. You just never know. For sure I would love to stay.“"

Now, standing on its own, this quote may be a slight cause for concern that Khris isn’t saying that he’s nothing but all in with only the Milwaukee Bucks and has nothing but Milwaukee on his mind. However, looking at this quote out of context of the rest of the things that Khris said can be quite misleading.

Jim Owczarski also wrote that Middleton acknowledged that he could become a free agent after this season but said he hopes he doesn’t play for any other team but the Milwaukee Bucks.

The words that preceded the quote that is circulating, making Bucks fans wonder about Middleton’s future and already making opposing fans think he’s going to be available to their favorite teams next summer are far nearer to the words we would expect to hear from a player who’s spent the last decade in Milwaukee. Not to mention a player with as strong of chemistry with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton had this to say:

"I think everybody knows that. Even though I know you’re really not supposed to say it for all the reasons out there, but I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay."

This part of the quote from Middleton offers far more optimism about the future not only of the Milwaukee Bucks big three, but of the future of the Milwaukee Bucks championship window. Khris Middleton was a large part of the Bucks getting over the hump in 2021 and was sorely missed during the playoff series with the Boston Celtics in 2022.

Khris Middleton’s player option, should he choose to accept it, would be worth $40.4 million for the 2023-24 season. If accepted Middleton is eligible for a maximum 3-year/$152 million deal. However, if Middleton declines his player option, he will be eligible for a 4-year/$200 million deal. Khris, given what he’s done for the franchise, what he’s helped shape in Milwaukee, has earned another large deal, likely the last big money deal of his career.

Looking at this situation from the Milwaukee Bucks point of view, the Bucks will likely try to get a deal done sooner than later, as shown in previous negotiations. With Middleton himself, the Milwaukee Bucks signed Middleton to his current contract after he declined his player option in 2018. There is also the Jrue Holiday contract extension that is worth mentioning as a case study.

Last February, Jrue Holiday came eligible for a 4-year/$160 million deal, Holiday was retained on a 4-year/$135 million deal with incentives to reach up to that maximum $160 million. Keep in mind that the last time Khris Middleton was eligible for a contract extension he could have received a maximum 5-year/$190 million deal, Middleton signed a 5-year/$178 million deal that goes through the player option he is eligible for next season. So while Khris is eligible for a maximum contract that could pay him about $50 million per season, it isn’t a guarantee that that’s the deal he ends up signing should he agree to stay in Milwaukee.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks milestones to watch for during the 2022-23 season. dark

Jrue Holiday signed an extension less than the max on a deal that included incentives for reaching the NBA Finals, winning a championship or making another all-star team.