Fate Of Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez & Nikola Mirotic Depends On Outcome Of 2018-19 Season

According to ESPN, the Bucks' decision to go over the luxury tax line depends on how far the team goes in the 2018-19 NBA season.

Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates with Malcolm Brogdon #13 during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 29, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

According to ESPN, the Bucks' decision to go over the luxury tax line depends on how far the team goes in the 2018-19 NBA season.

The Milwaukee Bucks are currently focused on the winning the 2019 NBA championship title but when the 2018-19 NBA season is officially over, they have no choice but to make a tough decision regarding their roster. Four of their core players – Khris Middleton (player option), Brook Lopez (unrestricted), Nikola Mirotic (unrestricted), and Malcolm Brogdon (restricted) – will be hitting the free agency market next July.

As much as they want to keep their core intact, bringing all those incoming free agents back will bury the Bucks deep into the luxury tax hell, especially with Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez expected to demand a better payday in the 2019 NBA free agency. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the Bucks’ ownership is open to the possibility of spending a huge amount of money to re-sign all their incoming free agents, but their decision will reportedly depend on the outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season.

“While the Bucks mitigated one potential free-agency issue by committing to a contract extension with Eric Bledsoe during the season, several other core players — including All-Star Khris Middleton, starters Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez and reserve Nikola Mirotic — will hit the open market this summer. In theory, the Bucks can keep all of them — but doing so would almost certainly send Milwaukee soaring into the luxury tax. That is something ownership is willing to do, sources say, depending on how far the team goes this season.”

As Bontemps noted, the Bucks won’t think twice before going over the luxury tax line if they succeed to come out of the Eastern Conference and make their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1974. However, Bontemps believes that throwing tons of cash would be a tough decision for the Bucks if they only make it to the Eastern Conference Finals or much worse, get eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round.

Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez have already expressed their desire to stay long-term in Milwaukee, but if the Bucks lowball them in the 2019 NBA free agency, they will likely consider entertaining offers from other NBA teams. Meanwhile, Malcolm Brogdon’s situation is more complicated, especially when opposing teams offer him a lucrative contract as a restricted free agent.

As of now, the Bucks are doing everything they can to keep their championship hopes alive. The Bucks are currently one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals after beating the Celtics, 113-101, on Monday night at TD Garden to gain a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. Game 5 between the Celtics and the Bucks will be on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum.