What Extending the Greek Freak Means for the Bucks
It is not often that you find a player as unique as Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 6’11 super freak that euro steps from the three point line and plays 4 positions, and averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists in 2015. Giannis was a body with athletic ability ready to be developed when the Bucks selected him with the 15th pick in 2013, and he now is that potential realized. The Milwaukee Bucks have built a young and lengthy core, brimming with potential with Giannis and Jabari Parker at the center. This deal (Giannis for 4 years 100 million) is a genius move by the GM John Hammond.
Giannis and Jabari are the Bucks future. Middleton is a great piece, as is John Henson, Greg Monroe, Matthew Dellavedova, and what Thon Maker could become, but none of them can develop into franchise centerpieces to the level that Parker and Giannis can. GM John Hammond had Parker and Giannis hitting restricted free agency one year apart, and only one designated 5-year slot at his disposal. In the NBA you can only have one player ‘designated’ to receive a 5-year maximum extension coming off that player’s rookie deal. Hammond and Giannis’ agreed to a contract for 4 years at $25 million a year, less than the max and he didn’t have to use his designated player slot. Giannis could have easily asked for it, and Hammond would have had to give him the max now, or later when he hits restricted free agency.
The 6’11 Greek native realized that by taking a set amount of $25 million rather than the max (25% of the cap), he saved himself from risk while also keeping the core together. The contract’s guaranteed dollars do not change based on what the cap figure becomes after the TV deal money filters back in, and it also will not change based on what salary cap number is determined when the collective bargaining agreement is up. All Giannis did was ensure he got his $100 million guaranteed, while eliminating any semblance of risk. The Bucks lock up a player they can deploy in virtually any role (that doesn’t require Giannis to chalk up three pointers) and 4 positions as a swiss army knife on the court. Even with Khris Middleton getting injured, Jason Kidd has a matchup mismatch in nearly every contest when Antetokounmpo is on the floor, a luxury in terms of game-planning. In addition, the Bucks are now free to use their 5-year designation on Jabari Parker, keeping their budding stars together for a guaranteed 4 more years. This brilliant move by Hammond establishes the Bucks to build a true contender in the Eastern Conference, primed to compete for years to come.