While much of the speculation about the 2019 NBA free agent class has focused on stars like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and Kyrie Irving, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News points to Bucks swingman Khris Middleton as another free-agent-to-be who could command a star-level salary next summer.
Although Middleton has flown somewhat under the radar during conversations about 2019 free agency, Deveney says there’s speculation around the NBA that the 27-year-old will be able to land a maximum-salary – or near-max – contract.
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According to Deveney, it’s a “foregone conclusion” that Middleton, who is earning $13MM this season with a $13MM player option for 2019/20, will opt out next summer, since he could very well double his salary. His market could be similar to Klay Thompson‘s, in the view of at least one NBA general manager.
“He is as good a two-way wing as Klay,” the GM told The Sporting News. “Nearly as good a shooter, as good a defender, a better playmaker. You can run things through him more than you can do with Klay. Khris would be as big a star as Klay if he were playing in Golden State, and he’s probably going to get similar money.”
The Bucks, off to a great start this season with Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, are prepared for Middleton to reach free agency and plan to be aggressive in their attempts to re-sign him, writes Deveney.
Milwaukee will likely face plenty of competition though, given the amount of teams projected to have cap room. Sources tell The Sporting News that the Lakers and Clippers figure to be among the clubs with interest, while Deveney also cites the Knicks, Mavericks, and Cavaliers as possible suitors.
For his part, Middleton – who has posted 19.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, and a .460/.423/.919 shooting line through 17 games – admits it’s “good to hear” that he’s highly valued around the NBA. However, he downplayed his interest in looking ahead to a potential payday.
“I have always been the kind of guy who just takes it one day at a time,” Middleton said to Deveney. “Focus on what needs to be done that day. Don’t think too far ahead. Once you start thinking too far ahead, you get distracted by things that don’t matter on that day. So that doesn’t matter.”