Khris Middleton

Central Notes: Middleton, Lopez, Stewart, Bagley, Bey

Khris Middleton won’t be ready to play by opening night as he recovers from wrist surgery. Joe Ingles is still rehabbing from a major knee injury.

So who will step up in their place? Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines potential lineup combinations the Bucks may use in their absence. Pat Connaughton will likely start until Middleton returns, though Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp will have opportunities to establish themselves as rotation pieces. Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen will fight for minutes at shooting guard.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton has a $40.4MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season, while center Brook Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent unless he signs an extension. However, there hasn’t been any buzz about it at Bucks camp, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In fact, Lopez claims that “I wasn’t exactly aware this was a contract year” until the subject was brought up.
  • Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley may be more suited to playing center but they’ll both see action at times at power forward this season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That will allow Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren to get some minutes off the bench. “It’s tough,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What’s going to have to manifest itself is – it’s not natural right now – for Isaiah to kind of slide to the four just to open some spots for everybody.”
  • While most of the attention regarding the Pistons is focused on their young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, third-year forward Saddiq Bey has served notice that he could be an offensive force this season, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s putting the ball on the floor a lot better, finding guys a lot better,” reserve guard Cory Joseph said. “We know how he can score and the attention he’s going to get. He’s making the game better for himself and everyone around him right now. He’s playing really well.”

Eastern Notes: Avdija, Wizards, Hill, Middleton, Hornets

The Wizards are taking a cautious approach with Deni Avdija‘s groin injury, which he suffered during EuroBasket 2022, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Before ramping him up, Washington wants to make sure he’s fully healed. Avdija didn’t participate in competitive portions of the the team’s first training camp practice on Saturday.

The 21-year-old could receive a big role in the Wizards’ rotation this season, as he averaged 8.4 points and played all 82 games in 2022/23. He was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks veteran George Hill seriously contemplated retirement this offseason, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Instead, Hill decided to return to Milwaukee, committing to play his 15th NBA season. “I do owe the city a better George than last year,” he said. Given that he’s 36 years old and already considered it this offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hill retires at the end of the 2022/23 season.
  • The Bucks are hoping to get star swingman Khris Middleton back early in their season, general manager Jon Horst said, as relayed by Lily Zhao of FOX6 (Twitter link). The 31-year-old, who underwent surgery in August to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist, is doing well in his recovery, Horst added. Middleton is coming off his third straight season of averaging more than 20 points, having put up 20.1 points per contest on 44% shooting last year.
  • Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer examines five questions for the Hornets ahead of the preseason. Among the questions is what will happen to Miles Bridges, who remains a restricted free agent after being arrested for felony domestic violence back in June.

Central Notes: Pistons, Middleton, Bucks, Bulls

As had been previously rumored, the Pistons are adding a pair of former NBA players to their coaching staff, announcing today that Keith Bogans and Rashard Lewis are coming aboard as player development assistants, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

The Pistons have also hired former Celtics assistant Brandon Bailey as a player development assistant and Brittni Donaldson – formerly of the Raptors – as an assistant coach and director of coaching analytics. The team announced a series of other promotions, including George David to associate general manager and Rob Murphy, Josh Bartelstein, and Tony Leotti to assistant GM.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • As we previously relayed, the Pistons sent the Jazz some cash as part of the Bojan Bogdanovic trade. The exact amount, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), was $1,752,638, which is equal to the amount that Saben Lee is earning in 2022/23. That means, from a financial perspective, Utah essentially swapped Bogdanovic ($19.55MM) for Kelly Olynyk ($12.8MM this season, plus a $3MM partial guarantee in 2023/24) and will get a free look at Lee.
  • Khris Middleton could become a free agent as soon as next summer if he turns down a $40MM+ player option for 2023/24. While he’s not sure how his contract situation will play out, the standout wing tells Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he wants to stay with the Bucks long-term. “I think everybody knows that. 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,” Middleton said. “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.”
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic poses a series of questions for Bucks players to answer this season, including whether Grayson Allen‘s playoff struggles vs. Boston were a fluke or a harbinger of things to come.
  • The Bulls will miss Lonzo Ball, one of their best two-way players, as he recovers from another knee procedure to open the season, but they have enough depth at point guard and don’t need to make a trade to fortify the position, opines Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

Central Notes: Hayes, Ball, Bucks, G League Trade

Killian Hayes has to make progress as a scorer to show the Pistons he should be part of their long-term plans, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. After injuries limited him to 26 games as a rookie, Hayes bounced back to play in 66 last season, showing the defensive and passing skills that made him the No. 7 overall pick in 2020.

However, his scoring development remained stagnant as he averaged 6.9 PPG in 25 minutes per night while shooting 38.3% from the field and 26.3% from three-point range. Edwards believes Hayes needs to become more aggressive in getting to the basket, noting that he made 74% of his attempts at the rim last season, but that only accounted for 16% of his shots.

Edwards poses questions involving other Pistons players, asking whether Isaiah Stewart has become a legitimate three-point shooter, whether Saddiq Bey can balance his performance from his first two seasons and whether Saben Lee can find a way to stand out on a roster loaded with guards.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Lonzo Ball tops a list of Bulls players with the most to prove compiled by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Ball may be held out through the start of the regular season because of pain in his surgically repaired left knee. The Bulls insist the knee is structurally sound, but his availability will play a massive role in where the team finishes in the Eastern Conference. Mayberry adds that the team also needs a bounce-back performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who’s heading into a contract year.
  • Unlike most of their competitors in the East, the Bucks didn’t make major changes this offseason and can rely on continuity as they make a run at another NBA title, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Milwaukee still has the defensive foundation to contend for a championship, Gozlan adds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo remains one of the best players in the world. One financial concern that Gozlan points out is that the Bucks appear destined for the repeater tax next season, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will both become unrestricted free agents in July if they don’t receive extensions.
  • In a press release, the Cleveland Charge – The Cavaliers‘ G League affiliate – announced the trade of Norvel Pelle and the Charge’s second-round pick to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (the Pacers‘ affiliate) in exchange for Nate Hinton.

Bucks’ Middleton Had Surgery For Torn Wrist Ligament

Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist in early July and is expected to be fully recovered near the start of the regular season, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Adrian Wojnarowski report (Twitter link).

This is a different injury than the one that kept Middleton out of all but two postseason games. He suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during Game 2 of the opening round against the Bulls.

The wrist injury dates back to March when he missed some games due to soreness in his left wrist.

Middleton averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 5.4 APG in 66 games during the regular season. Middleton is in the midst of a five-year, $177.5MM contract that runs through the 2023/24 season. He’ll make $37,948,276 next season.

2021/2022 All-NBA Teams Announced

The 2021/22 All-NBA teams have officially been announced by the NBA. For the fourth straight season, Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA First Team by a voter panel of 100 media members. Antetokounmpo, 27, is making his sixth All-NBA team overall.

Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic received the most votes. Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid rounded out the list of top five vote-getters. Because the All-NBA teams, unlike the All-Star squads, require just one center per team, Embiid was relegated to an All-NBA Second Team placing.

Below is a list of the three All-NBA teams. Vote tallies are listed in parentheses next to player names. Five points were awarded to players for a First Team Vote, three points netted for a Second Team vote, and one for a Third Team vote. Antetokounmpo earned a perfect 500 points.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat center Bam Adebayo and small forward Jimmy Butler, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, Bucks guards Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet all received All-NBA votes. Surprisingly, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who played in just 29 games this season, also received a single vote.

As we previously outlined, the All-NBA selections come with significant financial ramifications. As a result of being named to All-NBA teams, Booker and Towns have become eligible for super-max extensions that would begin in 2024/25. If they’re signed this offseason, those deals would be for four years and would start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter), they currently project to be worth $211MM apiece.

Young’s five-year contract extension, which was signed last August and will go into effect in 2022/23, will now be worth 30% of next season’s cap instead of 25% by virtue of his All-NBA selection. Based on a projected $122MM cap, that means it’ll be worth about $212MM instead of $177MM.

Jokic had already met the super-max requirements prior to this announcement, since he won last year’s MVP award — he’s eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason and has said he plans to do so. Doncic, who signed a maximum-salary contract extension last summer, also previously met the super-max criteria by earning All-NBA nods in 2020 and 2021.

Notable players who are not eligible this offseason for super-max deals include Morant and Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine. As Marks tweets, Morant needs to make the All-NBA team again in 2023 to qualify for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) on his next deal.

LaVine, a free agent this offseason, would have been eligible to earn up to 35% of next season’s cap from the Bulls if he had made an All-NBA team, but will instead be able to earn no more than 30% of the ’22/23 cap on his next contract.

With their inclusions, Morant, Booker, and Young are making their All-NBA team debuts. Meanwhile, on the other side of the NBA aging curve, two 37-year-old veterans further cemented their Hall of Fame credentials during the 2021/22 season. James made his 18th All-NBA team, while Paul was named to his 11th All-NBA team.

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Portis, Connaughton, Matthews

The Bucks‘ defense performed relatively well in their second-round series vs. Boston, holding a Celtics team that led the NBA with a 122.6 offensive rating after the All-Star break to a 108.8 mark in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, Milwaukee’s own offense struggled — the team ranked third in the league with a 114.3 offensive rating in the regular season, but its 99.7 second-round mark ranked last by a wide margin among the eight remaining clubs.

One reason for Milwaukee’s offensive struggles was Khris Middleton‘s absence due to an MCL sprain. The Bucks were left wondering after Sunday’s Game 7 loss whether they’d be the ones advancing to face Miami in the Eastern Finals if their second-leading scorer had been available vs. Boston.

“Obviously, we weren’t trying to make excuses, ‘We don’t have Khris, and oh, it’s going to be tough for us.’ No, no, no,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said on Sunday, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I think everybody went out there and competed, gave everything they had and that’s what we did from Game 3 against Chicago until Game 7 against Boston. But, if we had him, maybe it would have been a different story. But we didn’t.”

“We could’ve used him,” Jrue Holiday said of Middleton. “We definitely could’ve used him. He makes big shots and big plays on both ends, but especially the offensive end. Yeah, we missed him, but we also want him to be OK for the future, too. Yeah, he’s missed.”

Middleton confirmed on Monday that his MCL injury was a Grade 2 sprain and said it will heal on its own in the offseason without any surgical intervention (Twitter links via Eric Nehm of The Athletic and Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Middleton added that he wanted to play in Games 6 and 7 vs. Boston and didn’t experience any setbacks, but team doctors said the risk was too high for him to return so soon (Twitter link via Owczarski).

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Asked about his upcoming player option decision, Bobby Portis spoke at length about how much he has enjoyed his two years in Milwaukee, but deferred to his agent on his contract situation. “That’s on the organization and my agent to figure that out,” Portis said (Twitter link via Nehm). “I don’t really discuss numbers or contracts or none of that. I love it here. I love being a Buck, but it definitely comes down to them making it work.” The Bucks would have Early Bird rights on Portis, who has certainly outplayed his $4.56MM option.
  • In his preview of the Bucks’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) takes a closer look at Portis’ free agency, noting that the Bucks could offer him up to about $22.6MM over two years using the Early Bird exception. Marks also explores potential new contracts for Pat Connaughton, who can reach free agency by turning down his player option, and Middleton, who is extension-eligible.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previewed the Bucks’ summer too, examining the upcoming free agent and extension decisions facing the team.
  • Veteran wing Wesley Matthews told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely continue his NBA career and would like be back with the Bucks (Twitter link via Owczarski). The 35-year-old said that he hopes not to have to wait until December to sign his next contract, as he did this past season.

Bucks’ Khris Middleton Ruled Out For Game 7

4:52pm: Middleton has been officially ruled out for Game 7, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.


1:31pm: The Bucks are pessimistic about Khris Middleton‘s availability for Game 7 on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM). Milwaukee originally seemed optimistic that Middleton could return, but that hope has since appeared to fade.

“Earlier this week, the folks I was talking to were giving me some optimism about Middleton playing this weekend, but that has not happened. That has not developed,” Windhorst said. “And now I would say there’s pessimism about Sunday, and frankly, I have been told that even if the Bucks advance to the conference finals, there’d be pessimism he’d be ready to start.”

Middleton suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee during Milwaukee’s first-round series against Chicago. He was the Bucks’ second-leading scorer this season, averaging 20.1 points on 44% shooting.

The winner of this series will advance to play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee has played Miami in two straight postseasons, losing in 2020 and winning in 2021. The Celtics, meanwhile, last met the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020.

Should the Bucks advance, Game 1 of the next round will be played on Tuesday. After that, Game 2 will commence on Thursday, while Game 3 would shift back to Milwaukee on Saturday.

Central Notes: York, Middleton, Ball, Brown

An unexpected conversation with Kevin Durant left a huge impression on Pacers guard Gabe York, who finally reached the NBA last month after years of trying, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. York, 28, signed a two-way contract with Indiana and appeared in two games, including the season finale against the Nets.

“He comes up to me talking about, ‘Yo, I seen the struggle. I seen the journey that you went through to get here, bro, like for real, congrats. I know it’s been work,'” York said. “And just knowing that KD said that (expletive), I’m really like, ‘Wow, bro. People really watched (my journey).'”

After going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016, York spent time in Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy before joining the Pacers’ G League affiliate in Fort Wayne. He admits being nervous before his NBA debut, but that stopped once he got into the game.

“My nerves went away instantly and for whatever reason in my brain, in my mind it told itself, ‘It was like, ‘Nah, you belong here,'” York said. “It felt right. Nothing felt forced. Nothing felt too fast, too nothing. … When you’re in the G League or when you’re overseas, you just keep watching TV, keep watching the NBA and you just see stats and you see players, you think they’re bigger than what they are. And then once you get on the court with them, you’re like, ‘I played basketball for 20 years, bro.’ You need to guard me, (too).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Khris Middleton is making progress in his recovery from an MCL sprain in his left knee, but he’s not ready to start playing again, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Coach Mike Budenholzer, who expressed hope last week that Middleton might be able to return at some point during Milwaukee’s second-round series with the Celtics, told reporters today that Middleton has been able to do “a little” on the court, but there’s nothing significant to update.
  • After playing just 35 games this season, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is focused on being healthier in the future, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suffered a bone bruise, then had surgery for a torn meniscus and didn’t play after January 14.
  • The Bulls are unlikely to bring back Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas next season, but they face a more difficult decision on  Troy Brown Jr., Johnson states in a mailbag column. They have a June 29 deadline to extend a qualifying offer to Brown to make him a restricted free agent.

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Holiday, Matthews, Tucker, Hill

The Bucks have confirmed that Khris Middleton will miss Games 3 and 4 of their series with the Celtics, but they’re not speculating about his availability beyond that, according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. A report last week indicated that Middleton was likely to be sidelined for the entire second-round series and could be in jeopardy for the conference finals.

“We feel really good about where he is,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after Thursday’s practice. “We continue to hope he makes progress.” Budenholzer responded, “We’ll see,” when asked if Middleton could possibly play against Boston.

Middleton suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee on April 20 during Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Chicago. An examination was set for this week to reevaluate his condition and determine when he might be able to return. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in two playoff games against the Bulls.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews have become the destructive defensive duo they talked about forming nearly five years ago, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. When Holiday was with the Pelicans and became a free agent in the summer of 2017, Matthews tried to convince him to join the Mavericks. However, New Orleans made Holiday a five-year, $150MM offer that was too good to pass up. “It was pretty close,” he said. “But I ended up staying with New Orleans. Money wins.”
  • In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Heat forward P.J. Tucker says he felt disrespected by the Bucks’ offer after helping the team win an NBA title last season. Tucker added that he loved playing in Milwaukee, but management wasn’t willing to risk going into luxury tax territory to keep him. “For me, it wasn’t even about money,” he said. “It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing.’”
  • George Hill is making progress toward returning from an abdominal injury, Nehm tweets“He’s getting close. We’ll see how he responds to today,” Budenholzer said on Thursday. “He pretty much did all of practice and did some extra, a play group, afterwards. I think we just gotta see how he comes out of that.”