Bucks lock up young big man John Henson for 4 years, $44 million

Bucks forward/center John Henson averaged 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 18 minutes per game last season.

Jeffrey Becker/Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

John Henson’s statistics from his first three seasons in the NBA don’t really jump off the page.

The Milwaukee Bucks see so much more from Henson than any stat line, and so much more room for the 24-year-old to grow. And they want to be in position to reap those benefits as Henson continues to develop with the up-and-coming Bucks.

Henson signed a contract extension Friday, a four-year, $44 million deal that could reach $48 million if certain incentives are reached, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement of the terms has not been made.

"I played every role a man could play on this team and in this organization, from not playing, to playing, to starting (and) coming off the bench," Henson said. "It’s good for me. I kept my head down and stayed in my lane, so to speak, and I’ve been rewarded for it."

Henson was the 14th overall pick out of North Carolina in 2012. Picking in the middle of the first round can be an incredibly difficult position to be in, but Bucks GM John Hammond has hit on several of his choices, including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Henson, a 6-foot-11 power forward/center with the ability to guard multiple positions.

In his third season in the league, Henson averaged 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 18 minutes. But he also shot 56 percent from the field and saw his playing time increase in the playoffs as coach Jason Kidd grew to rely more on him to bring some defensive tenacity to a surprisingly successful team.

With the salary cap set to skyrocket in the coming years as the NBA’s new television deal kicks in, the Bucks didn’t hesitate to lock up Henson in a financial environment that has been especially lucrative for big men. The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, ensures that Henson will remain a core member of a young team on the rise as he enters his fourth NBA season.

Henson joins Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker as youngsters supplemented by veterans like Greg Monroe, Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez on a team expected to make another playoff run in the Eastern Conference.

"I don’t think there’s a better situation as far as being a young guy in this league on any team," Henson said. "For them to want me to be a part of this, it’s a blessing.

"It’s up to us to kind of continue to win games and keep that core together because obviously, you know, winning heals all. That’s what we want to keep doing."

Energized by new owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, the Bucks have been aggressive on the market. In addition to Henson’s deal, Middleton signed a five-year, $70 million contract this summer and Monroe got three years and $51 million to give them the offensive presence in the paint they have been missing.

Kidd called Henson a "true professional" and a great teammate.

"I think it’s a well-deserved contract," Kidd said. "You look at the core of our team, keeping him here, securing that just shows the direction we’re trying to go."