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Brew Hoop Round Table: Giannis Antetokounmpo Extension!

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NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

What was your exact reaction when you heard the news?

Eric Buenning: The first thought I had was about the things I would do if I was given $100 million over four years. Then I was sad because I’ll never see that type of money in my lifetime. Then I had some cereal. But, after thinking about where and what Giannis and his family came from, it was hard to not just be plain happy with this news.

Brett Abramczyk: Some combination of giggling, squirming, yelling, and smiling. Giannis is my favorite, and he’s mine for another four years.

Mitchell Maurer: My jaw dropped from the force of the WojBomb, and a co-worker asked me if I was okay. “Yeah, I’m okay,” I said, excusing myself from the meeting and furiously retweeting everything on my timeline. I then spent my entire lunch break in the Brew Hoop comments section, it was pretty great.

Frank Madden: My assumption was that a deal would get done at some point before the season started, though I was surprised that the final figures were less than a four-year max — C.J. McCollum just got four years and $106 million, and I don’t think anyone can say with a straight face that he’s worth more than Giannis. So the dollar figures are obviously a positive for the Bucks, though I also had an immediate flicker of concern that the Bucks could have gotten him for five years and decided to pay much less (and get more cost certainty) for four. I’ve been a Bucks fan for 25 years, so my natural inclination is paranoia, OK?

Eric Nehm: Surprise. Like Frank, I figured it would get done before the season started, but I obviously had no idea when it would actually happen. I also had assumed it would be a max contract, so seeing something that was not a max was startling. For a brief moment, I thought about all the things that could possibly go wrong because, well, I’ve been a Bucks fan my whole life, but Kool and the Gang quickly drowned out those thoughts and I started to smile.

Is there any argument to be made that this deal is anything less than “great”?

EB: If you are attempting to make this argument, you’re the police.

MM: If you’re trying to be the police, you have to tell us, otherwise that’s entrapment, which is against the Constitution or whatever.

BA: The deal is great, and Giannis is great. Even if the $6 million he left on the table is relatively small compared to the size of his overall contract, he had every right and would have had every opportunity he wanted to get as much money as possible next summer. It may be a medium-sized drop in the bucket in terms of the overall salary cap, but at the very least it sets a precedent for his teammates going forward.

It also probably speaks to the success the team is having in developing a player-friendly reputation around the league, something the team has demonstrably desired in recent history.

FM: The only argument would be the five-year argument, but that also would have added an estimated $38 million (and potentially much more depending on what happens with the cap). So this seems like a generally very good outcome.

EN: The fifth year would have been cool, but the Bucks have been able to stay away from any deals that are based on a percentage of the cap for the near future and that seems like a pretty good plan with some leaguewide cap uncertainty (lockout, new CBA, etc.) over the length of deal.

How concerned are you about the deal lasting 4 years instead of 5?

EB: Not really. Maybe I’m stupid, but I don’t think Giannis has any plans to go elsewhere, and there’s probably another huge contract coming his way (when he’s still just 25/26). The franchise has shown they’re all in on Giannis consistently, so I seriously doubt him not getting that 5th year would be perceived as a slight. I won’t lose sleep over this.

MM: I have no concerns whatsoever.

BA: I’ll play the role of devil’s advocate/police/overly cautious Bucks fan here, and say there probably exists a reality in which 5 years from now...

  • The team has failed to convince him they can eventually piece together/lure a capable starting cast to consistently contend
  • Giannis faces extreme pressure to win a championship soon (from himself, media, etc.)
  • Giannis is no longer the starry-eyed, selfless kid that is satisfied with staying with Milwaukee for his entire career

Given he’ll be just 26 at the time of his next free agency window (and the fact that he’s never going to change and he’ll always be innocent and perfect), there’s reason to doubt the culmination of these things will become a reality in five years. Then again, five years is a long time...

So, yes, it’s possible we look back and wonder how we ever in our right minds declined to lock up a franchise player for as long as possible. Then again, if that much changes over the course of five years, a hell of a lot has got to happen in the hypothetical extra year to reverse one, if not all of these conditions.

MM: I KNEW BRETT WAS POLICE.

FM: I agree with Brett that a lot can change over the next five years (this year plus the four-year extension). Who knows what this team and organization will look like 2021? People can change their minds about many things from the age of 21 to 26, and if the Bucks don’t live up to their end of the bargain they may certainly face a scenario where Giannis might want to leave at some point.

That said, I don’t think it’s worth fretting over something that far out, especially given that Giannis seems happy with the deal and the franchise is generally headed in the right direction. I might be concerned if Giannis and his camp desperately wanted the five-year max and the Bucks refused, but it seems like everyone was content with where things ended up.

EN: As I mentioned above, there was some initial concern over the issue, but talking with all parties involved during and after the press conference announcing the extension, I’m not all that concerned. Giannis’ agent Alex Saratsis suggesting the ability to renegotiate the contract three years from now completely unsolicited made me feel a lot more comfortable with the situation.

What does this mean for the Bucks next summer?

MM: The margin of error for the negotiations of Jabari Parker’s extension just got a lot larger. At this point, after both Khris Middleton and Giannis took team-friendly deals, it would take a monumental season from Parker to entertain the thought of a five-year rookie max extension, which isn’t a bad price to pay if it means Jabari ascends to that level. And if he doesn’t rise that high in a single season (which is understandable, despite his considerable potential), the likelihood of Jabari pushing for a deal that doesn’t fall in line with the team’s other young stars seems remote.

Beyond that, the team looks pretty much locked in with a lot of the core personnel that they have. Besides Jabari, the Bucks have Giannis, Middleton, Henson, Plumlee, Delly, Telly, Thon, Vaughn, Brogdon, and Ennis all still under contract, so even if the team doesn’t have a ton of cap space, it’s not likely that they would want to use it for more than filling out the roster.

FM: Locking up Giannis now means the Bucks will likely be close to the cap next summer even excluding Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams, so we shouldn’t have any illusions about the Bucks going out and adding another major piece via free agency. Considering the money Parker will get, that probably wasn’t in the cards regardless, though Giannis taking less would seem to make it more likely that Parker takes a similar “discount.” Realistically Jabari is also less likely to deserve a max anyway, but that’s also why it’s so important for him to make major strides on both ends this season.

For better or worse then, this is essentially the asset base that the Bucks will have to work with in order to build a contender; the days of having your best players on dirt cheap rookie deals will soon be over. You’d certainly expect them to make some trades using the pieces they have in next few years, but they’re not going to have max cap room to play around with unless they really blow things up, and they don’t have any draft assets beyond their own picks — which you wouldn’t expect to be high lottery picks. It doesn’t mean the Bucks have to contend in the next year or two; their core is still incredibly young for that. But the pressure is now on to make clear strides, and it starts with Giannis, Khris and Jabari. The Bucks don’t own the future just yet, but Giannis’ $100 million deal should serve as a nice down payment.

EN: I mentioned it in the Giannis Extension Press Conference Reaction Pod, but the Bucks have made some not so subtle hints to Jabari Parker that a max contract probably isn’t on the table next summer, even though the Bucks would have one available for him to take. One of the underlying themes of yesterday’s press conference was that if more players sacrifice a little in contract negotiations (like Giannis, and Khris Middleton last summer), the team will have the flexibility and freedom they need going forward to create a championship roster.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, underpaying your best players is the easiest way to create a championship roster, but it can also a dangerous game to play as a franchise. If just one player is not okay with their contract or one player feels like he is not getting the respect he deserves or one player thinks they are not getting enough touches or one player has an agent get in his ear, the entire thing can blow up. Despite Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Parker EACH seeming like the type of egoless people that would get behind the idea of sacrificing for the greater good, the entire situation could always get ugly in a hurry, especially if three great players are sacrificing for the team, but the team is not any good.