The Milwaukee Bucks have a $67 million question this summer about which free agents to bring back. They will need to max out Khris Middleton to keep him as Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s All-Star running mate (but if Middleton wants to leave he will have options). What about Brook Lopez? Nikola Mirotic?
The Bucks answered one question Friday afternoon, reaching an extension deal with point guard Eric Bledsoe. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story (it has since been confirmed by other sources).
Bledsoe has said in the past that he had found a comfort level in Milwaukee, he liked the team, and ideally wanted to stay. This contract is a good deal for both sides, keeping in Milwaukee the floor general and athletic defender at the point the Bucks have come to lean on.
Bledsoe is averaging 15.7 points and 5.5 assists a game. He is having a strong season in Mike Budenholzer’s system because the new coach got him playing to his strengths — this year 82 percent of his shots are either at the rim or a three, up from 70 percent a year ago (stats via Cleaning the Glass). The Bucks also got him to take better care of the ball (his turnover percentage dropped) and do a better job defensively using his strength and quickness to fight over screens. He’s taken a step forward from the guy who lost the PG battle with Boston’s Terry Rozier in the playoffs last year.
The Bucks still have some big questions coming this summer, and how they are answered will in part hinge on how the playoffs go. However, they have put in one big puzzle piece for next year, and it shows a commitment to keeping this roster together.