John Henson and the Milwaukee Bucks are "heading toward" a contract extension, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Reports of an agreement between the two sides are premature, but Stein says the Bucks regard Henson as part of their core and want to get him signed beyond next season.
Henson is currently entering the final year of his rookie contract after being drafted by the Bucks with the No. 14 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. A 6'11 big man who could become one of the game's best defensive bigs, he didn't play a huge role last season but should be featured going forward with Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia off the roster.
The Bucks are building around a young group coached by Jason Kidd, and Stein names Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe, Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton as the team's other building blocks. Those five might start with Henson coming off the bench, but no matter what, it's an exciting time in Milwaukee.
All of those other players are under contract beyond next season -- including Middleton, who agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal this summer -- so it makes sense that Henson would join them. He's the team's best rim protector and will likely see his value increase with a solidified role in 2015-16.
Henson averaged seven points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season, but showed his real talent on the defensive end. The big man blocked two shots per game -- fifth in the league -- despite playing just 18.3 minutes a night. With more court time on a good defensive team, Henson could continue his ascent as one of the game's top shot-blockers. During the 2013-14 season, he averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, so we've seen the 24-year-old produce when given the chance.