Casual NBA fans might not have noticed, but Khris Middleton had himself a breakout season up in Milwaukee. It was great timing for him as he headed into restricted free agency, and now he’s being rewarded:
ESPN sources say Milwaukee and Khris Middleton are closing in on five-year, $70 million deal
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2015
At 23 years old, Middleton stepped up in a big way for a team that lost Jabari Parker early in the season to a torn ACL and later traded Brandon Knight to acquire Michael Carter-Williams, a move that helped their cap sheet long-term but at the price of an offensive downgrade at the point.
Middleton doesn’t project as a bona fide offensive centerpiece, as their playoff series against the Bulls demonstrated, but then again, neither did Jimmy Butler and look where hard work got him last season.
He doesn’t really need to be the focal point either, not when he has Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo as teammates. The promising wing trio figures to be a force in the future, and with the others on rookie deals and Milwaukee not a free-agent destination anyway, the Bucks could afford to sign Middleton to such a hefty deal.
His ascension is a reminder for teams to not take moves on the margin for granted:
*remember when Khris Middleton was a throw-in in the Jennings deal*
— Today's Fastbreak (@TodaysFastbreak) July 1, 2015
Yep, that’s the Brandon Jennings trade.