Khris Middleton wants to be on the court when the Bucks open their season Thursday at Philadelphia, but the decision will likely be made for him by the team’s medical staff, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Middleton was knocked out of the playoffs by a sprained MCL in his left knee, but it was a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist that he suffered late in the season that forced him to have surgery.
Middleton said his legs feel rested after his first full offseason since 2019, but he’s not sure if he’ll get medical clearance to play in the opener.
“I would like to, but I’ve learned in the past to trust my training staff and doctors,” he said. “They know what they’re doing. This is my first time going through this and they’ve been through it many a times and they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. So I’ve learned just listen to ‘em. I mean, you can push yourself, but don’t really.”
Middleton is starting his 10th season in Milwaukee, and his future with the organization is going to become an important topic at some point. He hasn’t decided what to do with his $40.4MM player option for next season, although he admits that staying with the Bucks is his first choice.
“I think everybody knows that,” he said. “Even though I know you’re really not supposed to say it for all the reasons out there, but I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay. But also, you know it’s a business. Things change, things happen. You just never know. For sure I would love to stay. If everything works out … Of course if they give me whatever I want I’m there! I’m there.”
There’s more on the Bucks:
- Coach Mike Budenholzer dismissed any concerns about the team’s 0-5 preseason, but Giannis Antetokounmpo said it shows there are areas that need improvement, Owczarski adds in a separate story. “Right now, I feel like we’re not vocal enough,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re not urgent enough. We’re not hungry enough. But at the end of the day, it’s the preseason. We have the whole regular season to find ourselves.”
- The preseason struggles might be a result of a new defensive scheme that Budenholzer is implementing, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The Bucks are placing a greater emphasis on trying to prevent opponents from taking three-point shots. “I think it’s about finding that balance,” Brook Lopez said. “I don’t think it’s for lack of trying or anything like that. We’re figuring things out, and that’s what these preseason games are for, and I think we’re confident of the team we’re capable of being.”
- The Bucks have some health concerns heading into the regular season, Nehm tweets. Pat Connaughton is “going to be a little bit” due to a calf injury, Budenholzer said. Thanasis Antetokounmpo has been sidelined with a non-COVID illness, and the team hopes Wesley Matthews will be cleared to return Monday.