Bucks discussed max contract with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who took less
Milwaukee general manager John Hammond sold the 21-year-old on sacrificing for the team
When Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million extension with the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, it was a bit of a surprise because it was less than a maximum contract. This is a 21-year-old who averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists after last year's All-Star break. He is 6-foot-11 and can play point guard. If any young player was on the verge of signing for the max, then surely it would be him.
On Tuesday, the Bucks held a press conference to announce the deal and general manager John Hammond revealed that they asked Antetokounmpo to sacrifice money so the front office would have more financial flexibility as it tries to build a contender. Antetokounmpo was willing to do so.
"There was a max number out there, and that was discussed internally and externally, Hammond said. "And the one thing we asked Giannis to do was take that into consideration as we move forward, to give us every opportunity -- we want to become a championship level team. There's going to be guys, and guys that have done that and players who have given back some, and ... as we move forward, hopefully within the organization we'll have other guys who are willing to do that and those small pieces can turn into a bigger chunk at some point."
It's unclear exactly how much money Antetokounmpo gave up. Had he waited, he could have signed a five-year max contract with Milwaukee in the summer and his starting salary could have potentially risen, depending on what happens in collective bargaining discussions. In any case, he has done the Bucks a significant favor. A serious injury is just about the only thing that could get in the way of him and a maximum offer on the open market.
The question, of course, is what Milwaukee will do with the extra flexibility. Its highest-salaried player, Greg Monroe, has been in trade rumors for months. In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have Khris Middleton, John Henson, Miles Plumlee, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic and Thon Maker signed long-term. Michael Carter-Williams is heading into a contract year and Jabari Parker will be eligible for an extension next summer. This is one of the more interesting rosters in the league, but after failing to live up to expectations last season, it's unclear how far the franchise is from contending in the East.
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