2. Re-signing Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton signed a 3-year, $93 million contract
In a similar vein, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to retain Khris Middleton to be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s wingman for at least another couple of seasons. Coming off of an injury-plagued year and entering his age-32 season, the question of whether to back up the truck for Middleton was a real one.
In the end, however, it seems like Middleton didn’t have the tremendous market that many suspected he might. He was the best small forward on the market, but the cap space teams seemed to prioritize different directions in free agency. Without a suitor to drive up the price, Middleton and the Bucks worked out a reasonable deal for both sides.
The Bucks get to keep the band together and hope that Middleton’s knee holds out for another couple of seasons, and they do so at an AAV (Average Annual Value) of just $31 million, with another $9 million total in incentives over the life of the deal. Middleton declining his $40.4 million player option for this season saves the Bucks nearly $12 million in salary for this season.
For Middleton, he secures another large contract but with the optionality to hit the market in two years if he plays well. The third year has a player option, which would allow Middleton to either hit the open market or re-sign for another long-term deal with the Bucks.
Middleton’s injury history is scary, and he could drop off a cliff quickly. This deal was the right compromise of risk and reward, however, and a move they essentially had to make.