The Bucks have secured at least one piece of their thriving core, reportedly locking up guard Eric Bledsoe to a four-year, $70 million contract extension Friday. Bledsoe was acquired from Phoenix in November 2017, and he’s been entrenched as a starter in Milwaukee’s backcourt since. The first-place Bucks—owners of the best net rating in the NBA—have several pending free agents this summer, including Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and the newly acquired Nikola Mirotic. Bledsoe’s deal is the first domino to fall, so let’s grade it for Milwaukee.
On its face, the Bledsoe signing is totally sensible for Milwaukee. He’s a capable player who’s been instrumental to the team’s success. The Bucks’ offense performs better when Bledsoe is on the court, and the defense remains elite as well. And the team’s 11.6 net rating should assuage any concerns about his overlap with Malcolm Brogdon when both are on the floor. (Locking up Bledsoe also means losing Brogdon could be more palatable if he receives a massive offer in restricted free agency.) Bledsoe won’t turn 30 until December, which means the contract, which is a slight raise from his current salary, should cover most if not all of the rest of his prime.
Here’s the big takeaway from this deal: The Bucks appear willing to commit to their current core, which could get expensive rather quickly. Bledsoe already got his raise. Brogdon and Middleton (and potentially Lopez) are also due for ones next season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be supermaxed in 2021. Milwaukee appears to have a title contender in the works, and it’s going to be expensive to keep the current group intact for the foreseeable future. For now, the front office deserves credit for being willing to pony up the cash. What remains to be seen is who else is brought back, and if the current group can achieve longstanding success.