One day before he partakes in the NBA’s Vegas Summer League as a member of the Bucks’ squad there, guard A.J. Green has signed his first standard contract—and a multiyear one at that—with the team, as reported this morning by The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
Free agent guard AJ Green has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, with the first year fully guaranteed, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Agent Matt Bollero of ProMondo Sports negotiated the contract.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 6, 2023
The Northern Iowa alum signed a two-way deal with Milwaukee just over one year ago and stuck on that for the entirety of the season. Though he went undrafted, he enjoyed a productive four-year career in his hometown of Cedar Falls, averaging 17.9 PPG on 37.8% shooting from deep. As a pro, he shot even better from the more distant line at 41.9% on three attempts per game. He only made 35 appearances and played just 9.9 MPG in them, but the Bucks saw enough there to give him a roster spot for at least the year ahead. With the Herd in Oshkosh, he got into only seven games—all starts—averaging 21.1 PPG on .487/.405/1.000 shooting plus 4.9 RPG and 3.6 APG.
Though the Bucks did tender Green a qualifying offer in late June, making him a restricted free agent, they didn’t hold Bird rights on him having only come off a two-way deal. That means they could only have signed him with non-Bird rights, to a minimum deal, or with part of their taxpayer midlevel exception. Since his minimum salary of $1.8m as a player with one year of experience is higher than what the Bucks could have offered him with non-Bird rights, that seems to be the most likely path. Minimum contracts for second-year players can cover up to four seasons for a total of $8.7m, though as Charania notes, only his first-year salary is fully guaranteed.
Green is now the twelfth Buck under contract for 2023–24. Depending on what Jae Crowder’s salary is (it hasn’t been reported yet, but I’ve been operating under the assumption that it’s somewhat larger than a minimum), Milwaukee has at least $177.6m committed with two spots left to fill. At least one of those will be earmarked for rookies Andre Jackson Jr. or Chris Livingston, but with Green being promoted, one of the Bucks’ three two-way spots is now definitely open. For those watching the Bucks’ proximity to the second apron and their ability (or lack thereof) to use the TPMLE, this puts them $5.2m below that figure at most, if we assume Crowder received the minimum.
Even if Crowder did take a veteran’s minimum contract, Thanasis Antetokounmpo remains unsigned and seems destined to take a minimum of his own—if not slightly more. With those two vets on minimums, adding Thanasis plus rookie minimums to the Bucks’ ledgers and they’ll have all fifteen standard roster spots full and be $945k clear of the second apron, with no ability to use the TPMLE. Shifting Livingston into a two-way deal only clears an additional $1.2m, giving them just over $2m of the TPMLE available, barely more than the value of the vet minimum.
If Crowder is indeed being paid more than the minimum, even by a few hundred thousand dollars, the Bucks will also only have around $2.1m of space below the second apron, rendering the TPMLE similarly moot. At this point, the only ways to use that exception would be to move on from Thanasis (I wouldn’t recommend this!) or send out some salary in a trade while taking less in return.
On the court, the 25-year-old will be looking for an expanded role in new head coach Adrian Griffin’s offense, having been limited to 50 games by his two-way deal. However, the Bucks’ backcourt is pretty stacked right now with three-point specialists now that Malik Beasley has joined the squad plus holdovers Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton. All four players are between 6’4” and 6’5” and are primarily spot-up shooters whose other skills vary, but are average at best across the board. Many following the team speculated that a trade from this depth was coming after the Beasley signing, and that should only ratchet up from here.
Congrats to Green on his so-far successful journey from an undrafted free agent one year ago!