Giannis Antetokounmpo’s decision to sign a five-year, $228.2 million supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks will have a domino effect on the team’s long-term future, the trade market this season, and 2021 free agency.
HoopsHype spoke with eight executives for their reactions to the extension and what it means for a potential Jrue Holiday extension, James Harden and the trade market, and free agency.
Executives for teams in smaller markets and others that aren’t traditional free agency destinations applauded Antetokounmpo’s decision.
“It’s a huge deal for Milwaukee to keep a star in a small market,” one Western Conference executive told HoopsHype. “It’s nice to see kids still to this day stay loyal to their team as all the stars leave to line up with other stars, which puts an imbalance in our league. It’s huge for the league and Milwaukee.”
“It’s good for the league,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. ”I’m excited for them. They’re a small market team that’s done a relatively good job of building around him, and he decided to stay. It’ll be interesting to see what the Heat, Raptors, etc. do.”
The Bucks strengthened their starting lineup this offseason with the blockbuster acquisition of Holiday, giving up three first-round picks and two pick swaps in the process. An underrated aspect of Antetokounmpo’s extension is the value of those draft picks decreased.
“I thought about all the Milwaukee picks and the impact to their value over the next three or four years,” an executive said when asked for his initial thoughts on the extension.
Now, entering the final year of his contract, the executives polled agree that Holiday has all the leverage going into any extension negotiations this season and heading into the offseason if he becomes a free agent.
“Jrue will get a max extension now,” as one of the Eastern Conference executives told HoopsHype. “Other teams could also be more aggressive going after Harden now.”
As the executive mentioned, along with several others polled, with Antetokounmpo off the free-agent market next offseason, teams who saved cap space for him could pivot towards trading for Harden or another player as they look to add a star. Currently, Harden is the top superstar available.
“I think you can now argue that Houston needs to hold tight until the offseason to move James because there will be far more competition for him,” one of the Western Conference executives told HoopsHype. “Contending teams that kept their powder dry plotting a run at Giannis and bad teams that can absorb him into a preponderance of cap space. I don’t see things changing significantly by the deadline, and the number is so hard to aggregate that good teams don’t really have enough fungible money. If they get to the deadline and are in contention, you are less likely to throw a bunch of deals at them to stack up to Harden.”
The Heat and Raptors, along with the Mavericks, Knicks, and several other teams, were in a position to create a max contract slot and hoped for a meeting with the two-time MVP. Now, those teams will have to pivot with their spending. It could open the door for current Raptors players like OG Anunoby and Norman Powell to receive contract extensions.
“It should put some pressure on teams in the East, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, and Toronto, to get ahead of any opportunities that could make Milwaukee better,” another Eastern Conference executive said. “Milwaukee will have to try and beat them to the punch on those pieces to add. They can not afford to get knocked out of the first or second round the next couple of years.”
Looking ahead towards 2021 free agency, multiple executives said they expect teams who prioritized cap space for Antetokounmpo to overpay in free agency for upgrades barring a trade for a star like Harden. Extensions for other stars such as LeBron James, Paul George, etc., also lessened the 2021 free agent talent pool.
With George extending, there’s a belief Kawhi Leonard will also remain a Clipper long-term. Leonard has a $36 million player option for next season. If he opts out, he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021.
The top players who do make it to free agency should have better offers as a result of all the extensions that were signed. Holiday, Rudy Gobert, Chris Paul ($44.2 million player option), Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Spencer Dinwiddie ($12.3 million player option), Kyle Lowry, and others could benefit as a result.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto
Basketball, Bucks, Business, Free Agency, NBA, Top, Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Victor Oladipo, Milwaukee Bucks