The Milwaukee Bucks, ever the subject of our fascination, are still your reigning NBA champions. They also announced today that Georgios Kalaitzakis, the second of their two second round picks selected in the NBA draft, has been signed to a contract.
The Milwaukee Bucks have signed forward Georgios Kalaitzakis, the 60th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.https://t.co/VHcJzq2P45— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 11, 2021
Kalaitzakis, apparently, has been in Vegas for a few days, but was just added to the Bucks’ Summer League roster and is expected to be available for today’s contest against Brooklyn.
Somewhat surprisingly, The Athletic’s Eric Nehm reports that it appears that Kalaitzakis has a standard roster spot, taking the final (for now) seat on the Bucks’ bench and giving the Bucks another two-way slot to fill over the offseason. Because the Bucks’ only used their Taxpayer MLE on George Hill’s $4.0 million salary, they were able to use the remainder to sign Kalaitzakis and secure him for a longer contract than the expected two seasons, while also saving money on the luxury tax because Kalaitzakis’ minimum deal with 0 years of NBA experience is only $925K. More specific contract terms have not yet been released.
Per a league source, it is a three-year deal for Georgios Kalaitzakis. The Bucks used part of the mid-level exception to allow the deal to last longer than two years. https://t.co/Yj1O0HscGk— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) August 11, 2021
Why did it take so long for Kalaitzakis to come to terms with the team, after fellow rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili agreed to a two-way deal, and why did he take up a regular spot? Part of it was the delay of working with FIBA (whereas Sandro attended Seton Hall, making things more straightforward), but also because the Bucks decided to pay a $300K buyout to Panathinaikos, Kalaitzakis’ club in Greece.
Furthermore, since the Bucks bought out Kalaitzakis’ contract, they were not permitted to sign him to a two-way deal, thus necessitating the use of a standard roster spot. Per Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ (emphasis mine):
NBA teams signing international players are allowed to pay a buyout to the player’s team or organization in order to release the player to sign in the NBA. The buyout amount is a matter of negotiation between the player and the international team or organization. NBA teams are allowed to pay up to the Excluded International Player Payment Amount, and this amount is not charged to the team salary. Any amount above the Excluded International Player Payment Amount comes out of the player’s (after-tax) salary, and therefore is included in the team’s team salary.
An international player payment cannot be provided when signing a player to a Two-Way contract or a contract with an Exhibit 10.
So, to sum things up:
- The Bucks picked Kalaitzakis in the draft, securing his draft rights.
- Milwaukee then negotiated a contract buyout of $300,000 to compensate Kalaitzakis’ previous team (Panathinaikos) and free him of his obligation to them.
- Once that was done, the only option to sign Kalaitzakis was to offer a standard contract, rather than a two-way.
- Rather than using the veteran’s minimum exception, Kalaitzakis was signed using part of the remaining MLE, which also allowed the Bucks to make the deal longer and (possibly) apply non-guarantees to future years.
In any case, the Bucks still have minor moves that they could make. Will Elijah Bryant survive training camp and make it to the roster on opening night? Are there any other smaller trades that Jon Horst will make to open up another spot? Who knows?! At least the Bucks sorted out a way to welcome Georgios Kalaitzakis to the franchise, and now we get to see what (if anything) he can do.