The Milwaukee Bucks appeared to have built a roster that would fix some of the major shortcomings of a year ago.
Now those plans have been jumbled once again.
Khris Middleton, the team’s star shooting guard, tore his hamstring in a workout and is expected to be sidelined for six months. That means the best-case scenario is that he returns for the final few games of the regular season and a possible postseason run, and general manager John Hammond expressed the obvious disappointment in the immediate aftermath of the injury:
“We’re obviously disappointed for Khris and our team, but injuries are an unfortunate part of the game,” said Hammond. “We’ll rely on our overall roster depth to help us while Khris is out for a significant period of the season.”
That leaves the Bucks trying to replace his 18.2 points per game and 39.6 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. He also shot 88.8 percent from the line and added an average of 4.2 assists in 36.1 minutes a game.
Last season, Middleton was the only consistent long-range gunner on a team that finished last in the league in three-pointers. General manager John Hammond signed two free agents that should help with the problem — Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic — but Middleton was still going to be the main outside scoring threat.
With no obvious replacement on the roster, the Bucks quickly traded fourth-string point guard Tyler Ennis to Houston for the enigmatic Michael Beasley. Ennis has shown flashes of potential, but he was buried on a roster including Dellavedova, Michael Carter-Williams and Jason Terry.
In return, the Bucks get Beasley, who was seen as a future superstar when he was picked No. 2 overall by Miami in 2008, He never reached those heights, and has been in trouble several times due to marijuana use. He was also accused of sexual assault in 2013, but no charges were filed after a 20-month investigation.
The high point of Beasley’s career came in 2010-11, when he averaged 19.2 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Timberwolves, but couldn’t maintain that level of play the next season. He spent the 2012-2013 season with Phoenix, but was waived in Sept. 2013 after a marijuana arrest, and ended up back in Miami.
For the last two seasons, he has played in China, only returning to the NBA after their season ended. He played 24 games with Miami at the end of the 2014-15 season and 20 with Houston last year.
He gave the Rockets offense off the bench, scoring 12.8 points a game in just 18.2 minutes, and his 33.3 percent from distance was only slightly below his career average of 34.3 percent. On a per-36-minute basis, he was putting up 25.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, numbers, and Hammond is excited about the potential boost to the Bucks.
“We’re excited to add a player with Michael’s skill set to our team,” Hammond said. “He’s someone that we’ve kept our eye on the last few seasons and we’re looking forward to watching him compete throughout training camp and the season.”
Of course, there are reasons that Beasley’s been a part-time NBA player the last two years. His 25.3 points per 36 minutes came on 20.3 shots, and he’s not going to be able to be that kind of gunner on a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
Beasley is also a defensive liability, which will make things challenging when he’s playing alongside Parker. The Bucks struggled defensively last season, and having to play Beasley significant minutes isn’t going to help fix that.
However, as a last-minute roster move, it is the best the Bucks could do to figure a major hole in the roster.