Keep or Shop: What the Bucks must do with every player under contract for next season

Portland Trail Blazers v Milwaukee Bucks
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Khris Middleton - Keep

Warning! Controversy is about to ensue. Following a turbulent regular season that saw him sidelined for significant time with various injuries, many were ready to give up on Khris Middleton entirely. Yet, when they needed him the most, he turned it on in the postseason, showing that he still has some juice left in the tank and can produce at the highest level.

Now, recency bias cannot overshadow Middleton's injuries and time missed. The injury concerns are still there and will carry over into next season. However, it's more likely than not that the Bucks will keep Khris Middleton and bank on him being healthier next year. If he can and the Big 3 can all get on the court together, they could be one of the best trios in all of basketball. It's not a bad idea.

Brook Lopez - Shop, but hear me out

This one is a bit more complicated.

Brook Lopez caught a lot of flack this season for his efforts, as many felt like he took a step back on the defensive end coming off a second-place finish in the Defensive Player of the Year running last season. At 36, he certainly didn't show the same burst as he once did, but this writer would argue that not all of Milwaukee's defensive issues were his fault.

The Bucks have relied heavily on drop coverage defensively over the years, and one of the reasons it worked so well was the litany of perimeter defenders the team had. Former Players like Eric Bledsoe, Jrue Holiday, Wesley Matthews or Jevon Carter could slow down opponents on the perimeter, and if they did happen to get by them, Lopez would be there for a contest or block.

This past season, the Bucks didn't have many solid perimeter defenders, which allowed for opposing scorers to get to the rim as if it were a turnstile at times. That made Lopez's duty much more difficult than when they had players like Holiday or Matthews or both. One could argue that the Bucks should find a way to add more perimeter defenders while keeping Lopez to get the best out of him.

Yet, on the other side of the coin, Lopez is 36 now, and he's set to earn a mammoth of a check worth $23 million next season. If the Bucks were to entertain him in trade talks, that salary could be useful in netting a high-end player with a large deal as well. Moving him would also likely help the Bucks in their quest to get younger, something they know they need to do this off-season.

The idea of trading Brook Lopez is worth at least testing the waters. The front office should see what is out there and what they could possibly get with that hefty expiring contract. If nothing jumps out to them on the market, they should aim to get back to the blueprint of putting defenders around him who could make his life easier in drop coverage.