The summer of 2019 promises to be a free agent bonanza like the league hasn’t seen since 2016, when the cap spike gave every team in the league the freedom to award contracts like they were going out of style.
With many of those deals finally coming off the books, the deck is clear for a new class of free agents to cash in, led by the max-level stars like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving. Firmly in that second-tier of free agents who are not quite superstars but will still demand a maximum salary include Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and Khris Middleton.
Middleton is among the most intriguing free agent options as a wing in a league that can’t get enough of them. Once an afterthought in a trade that sent Brandon Knight to Milwaukee in exchange for Brandon Jennings, Middleton has emerged as the second banana to Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Bucks try to win the East. Middleton is almost the fully-realized vision of a 3-and-D player. He takes 49 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, per Cleaning the Glass, and converts on 39 percent of them. At 6’8, he also presents the length to guard secondary perimeter threats, or even primary ones should Giannis need a breather.
It therefore comes as no surprise that a Milwaukee official told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, “We’re gonna do everything we can to keep him.” In that vein, the Bucks recently made a trade to acquire George Hill that served the dual purpose of shedding future salary, allowing Milwaukee to re-sign Middleton without going into the luxury tax.
There are multiple other teams who figure to be interested in Middleton this offseason. Chief among them would be the Los Angeles Lakers, provided they strike out on their first choices of Durant and Leonard. Still, every team could use a player of his caliber, as Middleton would fit pretty seamlessly in any roster with his ability to handle the ball and score efficiently.