The Milwaukee Bucks progressed quickly in the early hours of Wednesday toward their top offseason priority, moving to the brink of a long-term deal with restricted free agent Khris Middleton, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Bucks and Middleton are closing in on a five-year contract worth an estimated $70 million after the 23-year-old's breakout season as an impact two-way player under new Bucks coach Jason Kidd. The deal, sources said, will include a player option that allows Middleton to return to free agency after Year 4.
Although deals can't be formally signed until a leaguewide moratorium on player business is lifted July 9, Milwaukee was eager to come to terms with Middleton and agent Michael Lindeman of Excel Sports before interested rivals could start wooing the versatile forward with offer sheets.
If Middleton were to sign an offer sheet with a rival team instead on July 9, Milwaukee would have had three days to match it.
Sources say the Bucks, once they secure Middleton's commitment, will shift gears toward their long-planned pursuit for a top center. Team officials were scheduled to have a face-to-face sitdown after 2 a.m. ET Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with Detroit Pistons unrestricted free agent Greg Monroe.