The Milwaukee Bucks finished with the best record in basketball last season and were up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals before losing four straight games to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
Coming off of that, early in the free agency period the Bucks made moves to bring back three key veterans from that team in George Hill, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton.
The Bucks waived George Hill on June 29th and then the next day brought him back on a three-year, $29 million deal and with Brook Lopez being an unrestricted free agent, Milwaukee quickly brought him back on a four-year, $52 million deal and Khris Middleton was an unrestricted free agent but he is coming back on a five-year deal worth $178 million.
I like all of these moves, but I’ll start with Middleton.
Are the Bucks overpaying Middleton? Yes. Is it still the right thing to do? Yes. Middleton is not a tier one player and it’s debatable if he’s a tier two player, but he was the second-best player on the Bucks most of the time and with the Bucks being a team that was so close to making the Finals, you have to bring back your second-best player when you have no cap space and you have an MVP on your team who is entering their prime.
So while I don’t love the dollar figure attached to him, bringing back Middleton is still the right move to make.
Hill is getting up there in age as he is 33-years old and while he didn’t put up great numbers in the regular season this past season he had one of the better defensive seasons of his career and during the playoffs he nearly doubled his point per game output from the regular season. He also shot 41.7% from three during the postseason.
I don’t particularly have the highest opinion of Eric Bledsoe so I think bringing back George Hill is the smart thing to do because it gives them a smart veteran to have around who can still be productive.
Now talking about Lopez, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone transition their game during their career like Lopez has. In his first six season as a pro he was 0/7 shooting the three and then this past season he attempted 6.3 threes per game and he was good at it, shooting 36.5%. He didn’t quite shoot as good in the postseason, but Brook Lopez is a threat to shoot the ball now and he’s the ultimate example of evolve or die because he has evolved perfectly into what the NBA is today and it’s been very impressive.
He is also coming off of his best season overall in terms of box plus/minus and defensive box plus/minus. Not to say it was the best season of his career, but the advanced numbers on him are still very impressive.
One thing I would like to see Lopez improve this season is his rebounding numbers, but overall Lopez can play today in the NBA and he is a completely different player than he was when he first came into the league.
These decisions were easy to make for Milwaukee. They came two games away from making the NBA Finals this season and they are not in a position to make anything happen in free agency and it’s not like free agents are flocking to Milwaukee anyways. So running it back for Milwaukee is the smart thing to do.
Top Photo: Andrew Gash/Associated Press