The Milwaukee Bucks are going to be without Khris Middleton for six months or more after their leading scorer last season tore his hamstring. The Bucks are already calling up teams to see who is available, as the free agency market doesn’t really offer a proper solution.
After winning 33 games but late in the season figuring out how to use Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo a lot better, the Bucks expected that leaning on the two of them and Middleton will be their road back into the playoffs. Middleton, who played as a shooting guard 62% of the time, averaged 18.2 points per game, and signed a five-year, $70 million deal in 2015, played his rookie year for the Detroit Pistons before being traded to the Bucks, while Brandon Jennings went the other way.
One name that comes up is Rudy Gay, who has asked the Sacramento Kings to trade him. He’s not a shooting guard, but a small forward who plays as a ‘4’ as well, but the Bucks might be wary of trading for a player who isn’t known for his efficiency or defensive output, and doesn’t exactly fit their young, long and team-oriented approach. The Sacramento Kings probably won’t ask too much for him, but for now it remains a long shot of actually happening.
One other option that comes to mind is maybe trading for Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor who are allegedly on the trading block for the Philadelphia 76ers. It would mean having a big duo of Greg Monroe and Noel/Okafor in the frontcourt, while Parker moves to the small forward position. However, it goes against what the Bucks try to do as a team on both ends of the floor.
The Bucks might apply for the disabled player exception, which would open up $5.6 million to use in free agency, although there’s no one there actually worth paying that kind of money. Tayshaun Prince is available in free agency which could come in handy, but the most logical approach would be simply asking more from Antetokounmpo and Parker, although Giannis is likely to play more of a point-forward, playmaker role, and not your typical wing player.
This kind of injury could have major ramifications on Jason Kidd’s job, if he fails to make the playoffs. There were already whispers about Kidd being on the hot seat after the team regressing last season and not coming close to making the playoffs. With or without Middleton, the pressure is on him to get this group into the postseason, something that just became a lot harder, especially without a decent replacement in sight.