MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton is practicing with his teammates again and hopes to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday after missing eight games due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“I’ve been training the last few days here while the guys were on the road,” Middleton said after practice Tuesday. “In practice, I felt good. I can’t wait to see how I feel tomorrow.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Middleton will gradually work toward his usual playing time.
In that regard, the return of Bucks guard Jrue Holiday after missing 10 games with COVID-19 last season could serve as a guide. Holiday played 18 minutes in each of his first two comeback games, then worked his way up to 23 minutes and 25 minutes before reaching 32 minutes in his fifth comeback game.
Middleton acknowledged that he was concerned when he first learned of his diagnosis. He was not asked Tuesday about his vaccination status.
“Definitely panic,” Middleton said. “You hear all the stories out there. I definitely feel like my family and I were very fortunate that we didn’t end up in the hospital or have severe symptoms.”
The defending champion Bucks hope Middleton’s return can help them snap out of a losing streak. Milwaukee went 3-5 in games the two-time All-Star missed and is 6-8 this season. The Bucks are about to play five straight home games after going 2-3 on a five-game road trip.
Middleton averaged 20 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the six games he has played.
“I think it’s underrated what he does for us defensively, underrated what he does for us on the boards, his communication, his leadership,” Budenholzer said. “Everybody is going to talk about scoring and shooting and all that stuff. I don’t want to underestimate them, but I think he really is a complete player and is a great leader.”
Middleton said she “had a couple of symptoms” and felt bad for about two days after going home. Then he started to feel better, but he still couldn’t start workouts.
“Once I felt good, I was still testing positive,” Middleton said. “You have that itch, and I’m calling the coaches to see if I can do something. They would tell me I can’t increase my heart rate or exercise or do anything until the doctors give me permission. That was the hardest part, just sit down, feel like I was ready to go, but they hadn’t given me permission yet. “
The positive test also prevented Middleton from joining his teammates on their Nov. 8 trip to the White House in honor of the 2020-21 championship, though he participated from home. Bucks forward and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo surprised Middleton by contacting him via FaceTime and asking him to speak with President Joe Biden.
“I had no idea,” Middleton said. “I was sitting on a couch with the family to watch the whole event on the live stream. I was waiting, waiting, waiting. The next thing, I got a call and I was like, ‘Oh okay, this is why I’m still They’re not starting. It was definitely great. “