Small forward Khris Middleton has declined his $40 million option with the Milwaukee Bucks and will enter free agency going into the 2023-24 NBA season. Middleton went from role player to three-time All Star over the course of 10 seasons in Milwaukee and helped the team win the NBA Championship in 2021.

Despite being led by generational talent Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s hard to argue that the Bucks would have had the same success in recent years without Middleton. Between a fight for a starting role early on and a number of injuries, he earned a spot in the team’s offensive scheme just as it was beginning to rise in prominence. Several of his postseason performances for Milwaukee have made the difference, particularly during the team’s Finals run two years ago.

At the Bucks’ championship parade, Middleton said that a title for the team was his goal from the very beginning, when he arrived on the team in 2013 after his rookie season with the Pistons.

“It’s just been a long time coming,” Middleton said in a short address to the Milwaukee crowd. “A long time. I’ve been here eight years, struggled, went through a lot of ups and downs. But we finally got the job done for sure.”


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In a more in-depth look at the Bucks’ title run on the team’s YouTube page, Middleton talked about the moment that he celebrated with teammates in the locker room after a long fight to reach the top.

“Every single person in that locker room, even in that organization, these are the things you live and dream of. You make so many sacrifices to get to this point, and to finally get that, and see the pure joy in everyone’s face, how they’re really sitting there enjoying the moment … It’s a huge weight lifted off your shoulder.”

Before he arrived in Milwaukee in 2013, Middleton was selected by Detroit in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft and played a single season there. He played for three years at Texas A&M University, where his true potential was masked somewhat by an injury in his junior year. That potential has since been realized, and Middleton, now 31, will likely receive a number of offers in free agency.

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