2019 NBA free agency: Predicting where the top free agents will land

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images /
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NBA free agency
Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images /

Khris Middleton: Milwaukee Bucks

Within minutes of the Milwaukee Bucks‘ elimination from the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, ESPN‘s Malika Andrews published a story speculating on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future as he approaches a supermax decision in 2020. So yes, the front office is astutely aware of how important it is to put a contender around the Greek Freak and keep him for the long haul.

The first step was agreeing to an extension for All-Defensive First Teamer Eric Bledsoe, but the biggest step is plopping down a max offer in front of Khris Middleton as soon as free agency begins on Sunday. Replacing his 3-and-D skill-set would be impossible with the Bucks’ salary cap situation, and for a team on the cusp of greatness, it’s time for one deep breath before diving into the deep end of the luxury tax.

Middleton at the max (Maxleton?) might feel like an overpay, but he’s worth it to the Bucks. He can guard multiple positions, averaged an 18-6-4 stat line while canning 37.8 percent of his 6.2 long range attempts per game and is coming off his first All-Star appearance.

This will be quite the plunge for a small market team, but the Bucks were two wins away from facing an injury-battered Warriors team in the Finals. With the Dubs banged up and the Raptors’ future just as uncertain, the NBA is wide open. Milwaukee won’t play with fire, and should pay whatever it takes to keep Middleton — and probably Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon too — in Wisconsin.