Report: Expect Bucks, Khris Middleon to reach quick deal in free agency

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Khris Middleton was the best value in the NBA last season. The Milwaukee Bucks got 13.4 points per game (18.1 per game after the All-Star break) and a guy who shot 40.7 percent from three, played strong defense against multiple positions, and was incredibly efficient with a league 10th-best real plus-minus of +6.07, all for just $915,243.

This summer, Middleton is going to get paid.

The restricted free agent should have a number of suitors but nobody thought the Bucks would let him go (they have the right to match any offer). However, it may not come down to matching, according to the Milwaukee Journal’s Gery Woelfel (hat tip Eye On Basketball).

Free agency begins July 1 and, according to a person close to the scene, Khris Middleton won’t be a free agent for long and will reach a quick agreement to remain with the Bucks.

Expect that deal to be north of $8 million a year, maybe well north. He is the perfect example of a player who gets locked up on what seems a big contract this summer, but a deal that looks good once the salary cap spikes in 2016.

The Bucks only have a couple potential free agents this summer, and Middleton is the highest priority (Jared Dudley is expected to opt out of his deal as well and be an unrestricted free agent). Middleton fits with a lineup loaded with versatile and long defenders, such as Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Middleton has said he wanted to reach a deal with the Bucks and stay with this team and coach Jason Kidd.

Milwaukee announced itself as a team on the rise last season, and they will add instant offensive punch getting Jabari Parker back from injury, plus whoever they likely add in free agency. Middleton is a key part of that future and the Bucks aren’t going to let him go.

Paul George: I wanted Pacers to trade me to Spurs over Lakers

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When Paul George told the Pacers in 2017 he’d opt out the following year, the widespread assumption – fueled by George himself – was he wanted to join the Lakers.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:

George had another team on top of his wish list.

“I wanted to be traded to San Antonio,” George says. “We wanted to go to San Antonio first, and we didn’t make that happen.”

A league source confirmed that the Pacers and Spurs talked, but San Antonio lacked the assets to pair George with Leonard.

Despite Kawhi Leonard trying to persuade the Spurs to deal for George, Indiana traded George to the Thunder. George spent a couple years in Oklahoma City and appeared mostly happy. But he requested and received a trade to join Leonard on the Clippers last summer, finally uniting the star forwards.

At the time of George’s Pacers trade saga, there was a theory he was using a veneer of Lakers interest to help his new team maintain assets. The threat of George leaving in 2018 free agency for Los Angeles reduced the quality of offers to Indiana. The Thunder’s package certainly looked meager (though Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis blossomed with the Pacers). Then, George re-signed with Oklahoma City without even meeting with the Lakers. This revelation only further supports that theory.

Is it true, though? George now plays with Leonard on L.A.’s rival team. He might want to show his affinity for Leonard and distance himself from the Lakers. This story accomplishes both.

I’ll definitely give George this: Whatever his motivations, he said on the record the Spurs were his first choice in 2017. He didn’t hide behind the cloak of anonymity. So, I’m inclined to believe him.

Bulls unveil blue uniforms (photo)

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Michael Jordan famously wore a pair of North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform.

Now, Chicago will bring baby blue to the surface.

Bulls:

These are a major-departure from the Bulls’ red-and-black color scheme. Even the logo is altered.

Such deviations are becoming normalized. The Magic will wear orange. Expect other teams to get more radical.

These jerseys will certainly sell. The short-term revenue boost of all these alternate uniforms is the entire idea.

But I wonder whether there’s a cost to teams diluting their identities. These don’t look like Chicago uniforms. It could become increasingly difficult to value the prestige of NBA jerseys if they’re so loosely associated with a team.

Bucks to wear ‘Cream City’ jerseys (photos)

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The Bucks making cream one of their colors? Great! It was distinctive and local, celebrating the cream-colored bricks throughout Milwaukee.

These uniforms?

Bucks:

Not so great. Everything about the uniforms is fine except the words on the front of the jersey.

I’m sure nobody will crack immature jokes about those.

Reporter: Charles Barkley told me, ‘I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you’

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Charles Barkley has a history of sexist comments.

The crudest publicly came in 1990. Los Angeles Times:

Barkley, who said the remarks were meant as a joke, was quoted as saying after a tough Nov. 3 win over the underdog New Jersey Nets that “this is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”

But since becoming beloved for his outspokenness as a commentator, there have been others – calling the Warriors’ style “little-girly basketball,” mocking the weight of female Spurs fans.

Now, Barkley has again run his mouth in this direction.

Alexi McCammond of Axios:

Turner Sports:

This was obviously inappropriate for Barkley to say. I’m not sure how else to characterize it. It doesn’t sound like a threat. It’s not related to domestic violence. It’s just not the way to speak to someone working professionally.

I’m glad he apologized, and I hope he learned from this. But history suggests he’ll continue to make off-color jokes. In fact, he’s rewarded for repeatedly pushing the line.

That might eventually get him into serious trouble. I don’t think these remarks should be the ones to spark mass outrage.