LAS VEGAS – When the 2023-2024 Milwaukee Bucks take the court for the first time this season, much will look familiar. Champions Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis anchor a team that will once again have title hopes.
Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder and Robin Lopez are veterans who have experience with most of this championship core.
Continuity remains a theme and it has paid dividends for the Bucks over the last five seasons to a 69.3% winning percentage in the regular season and a 60% clip in the postseason.
But after the team’s free agents this summer, including Middleton and Brook Lopez, there is a bit of continuity off the field that is interesting.
First, Crowder, Robin Lopez and Malik Beasley are all on one-year or expiring contracts. Allen’s contract is also in its final season.
Giannis, several other Bucks players could become unrestricted free agents after the 2024-25 season
But most notably, the deals for Connaughton, Portis, Middleton and Brook Lopez are all in line with Antetokounmpo’s. They can all become unrestricted free agents after the 2024-25 season, and all but Lopez have player options for 2025-26.
“There’s certainly an intention to try to make sure we maximize where we are right now with this team and always have an eye towards the future to try and figure out what the next version of this team looks like, ” Bucks general manager Jon Horst told The Journal Sentinel. “It doesn’t necessarily mean there are big roster changes or there is or isn’t, it just means we have to keep an eye on it and continue to see on how we’re going to build this two, three, four, five years down the road, because the whole goal has always been to maintain our success over a long period of time.”
Giannis is able to sign a max extension with the Bucks before the season begins
Antetokounmpo is eligible to sign another max extension before the season begins, though that would be something of a precedent – no player his age and with thaw full seasons of team control left have done such a thing.
Since the creation of the “supermax” extension in 2017, only one player has signed an extension two years before his original max deal expired: Damian Lillard. Lillard did it in 2022but his situation was much different than Antetokounmpo’s, as the Portland point guard was turning 32 and had just missed 53 games with an abdominal injury that required surgery.
(Stephen Curry, the first person to sign a supermax, signed his current max extension with Golden State in 2021 when he was 33 years old, a year before he became a free agent.)
“I know from a media standpoint it’s ‘hey, he’s eligible for an extension in September,’ but at the end of the day he still has three years left on his contract with the player option year at the end,” ESPN’s front office and salary cap manager said. expert Bobby Marks. “If Giannis had two years left and he was going to be a free agent and he didn’t sign an extension, well I would be, I would be a little more concerned there. It doesn’t really worry me that much because he’s got a length on this contract. I think we’re just talking about it because now there’s a window where he can go out there and do it.”
Bucks look to the future
Of course, the Bucks would love for Antetokounmpo to sign an extension before the season. But even as he waits, the parallel contracts and the infusion of draft picks MarJon Beauchamp, Andre Jackson Jr. and Chris Livingston set the Bucks up to reboot their roster around Antetokounmpo and any potential max extension he accepts several years later.
This is despite the Bucks being in the second tax bracket for this season. Under the new CBA, a team could face tough roster-building restrictions if it surpasses the second seed multiple times in a four-year period — something they may now be able to avoid and still keep their title window open.
“It sets them up to have some flexibility in the post-Khris/Brook years, but with Giannis and possibly Jrue still on the team without entering the deadly second apron for too many years in a row,” said one league salary cap expert . not affiliated with the Bucks.
“I think that’s a big reason why Brook’s contract is two years and Khris’ numbers are lower and we’ll see what happens with Jrue here,” Marks said. “I think that’s a big reason they went out and got those two second-round draft picks because you have to have back-end guys.
“You’ve got to have this young infrastructure of players, and if you don’t have the draft pick capital, it’s hard because you’re turning the minimum wheel every year, you’re cycling through six or seven guys every year, and that’s extremely hard to do . That’s why you need MarJon and then Andre and then Chris eventually to play a role. Those guys are going to have to play a role just because of where these rules have to be.”