Bucks: Khris Middleton deal close to finalized; 5 years, $70 million


The Milwaukee Bucks wasted little time as the NBA’s free-agency negotiating window opened at 11:01 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, reportedly getting close to finalizing a five-year, $70 million deal to keep restricted free agent shooting guard Khris Middleton.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the deal will include a player option that would allow Middleton to become a free agent in 2019, after the fourth year.

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Middleton, who had a breakout season for the Bucks, averaging 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.1 minutes per game while shooting .467/.407/.859.

He started 58 games and played in 79 after briefly landing in the DNP-CD doghouse of new coach Jason Kidd early in the season.

But it was during the postseason when Middleton really emerged. In the six-game first-round loss to the Chicago Bulls, Middleton averaged 15.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and two assists in 38.7 minutes per game.

He shot just .380/.324/.933 in the series, in part because he was Milwaukee’s best offensive option against the defensive-minded Bulls.

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His defensive rating of 102, according to basketball-reference.com, was a career-best, down from an unsightly 113 in his first season with the Bucks in 2013-14.

Middleton emerged as one of the top two-way wing players in the NBA, a huge step up for a player who was little more than a throw-in to make the money work when Milwaukee dealt Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons in a sign-and-trade deal in July 2013.

The big prize, at the time, was guard Brandon Knight, who was traded at the deadline in February to the Phoenix Suns in a three-way trade that brought Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to Milwaukee.

Middleton can’t officially sign a deal until the league-wide moratorium ends on July 9.

The money sounds outrageous, but when the salary cap spikes in 2016-17 and again in 2017-18, when it is projected to exceed $100 million a year, the deal will look like a bargain for a solid starter who is a two-way force.

Apr 23, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Jared Dudley (9) celebrates after making a basket during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that swingman Jared Dudley was exercising his $4.25 million player option for next season and would return for a second season in Milwaukee.

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  • He was acquired in August 2014 along with a protected 2017 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica and a second-round pick in 2015.

    Dudley played in 72 games, starting 22, and averaged 7.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and a steal in 23.8 minutes per game, shooting .468/.385/.716 and providing veteran leadership for a young club.

    The eight-year veteran who turns 30 on July 10 was the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats and later played with the Phoenix Suns for parts of five seasons.

    The protected 2017 pick acquired with Dudley was swapped last week to the Toronto Raptors for point guard Greivis Vasquez.

    One of the Bucks’ potential targets in free agency is now off the market, with reports that the Brooklyn Nets will re-sign center Brook Lopez to a three-year, $60 million deal.

    The Bucks reportedly met with Detroit Pistons free-agent center Greg Monroe in the early hours Wednesday morning and are also reportedly interested in unrestricted free agent Tyson Chandler, who played with the Dallas Mavericks last season.

    Next: Greg Monroe To Meet With 5 Teams, Including Bucks

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