Over the course of the last 10 days, we’ve been telling you about how upset the NBA has been with the way some of its teams have circumvented rules regarding how and when they’re allowed to discuss the terms of contracts.
Basically, this all has to do with the timing in which the signings of players like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Kemba Walker were handled and announced before and shortly after the official start of free agency on June 30.
Last week, the league’s Board of Governors announced a new series of significant fines and penalties it hopes will curtail future tampering.
What we didn’t know until earlier this week was the rule extends to even teams talking in generalities about their own players.
Did you see where the Milwaukee Bucks were fined $50,000 for the violation of league rules which prohibit teams from discussing future contracts?
What got the Bucks in trouble was an innocent, inadvertent admission by their general manager, Jon Horst, during a televised Town Hall on Sept. 12.
Horst basically said what everyone in the NBA already realized – the Bucks have no intention of letting Giannis Antetokounmpo get away when he becomes a free agent. And to prevent it from happening, the team is planning to offer the Greek Freak every cent it’s allowed to extend – a supermax package worth $253.8 million after the 2019-20 season, the largest deal in the history of the NBA.
Here’s the problem: The current collective bargaining agreement between players and owners makes it clear team officials are not allowed to even pledge their willingness to offer supermax contracts until a player has completed his sixth season. That won’t happen in Antetokounmpo’s case until the end of the season.
Here is what Horst said in response to a question regarding Antetokounmpo’s future:
“The answer for right now is you can’t talk and negotiate anything. So Giannis, basically a year from now, will be eligible for a supermax extension. At that time, of course, he will be offered a supermax extension. (We) talk about this all the time. It’s our responsibility to create an environment, a culture, a basketball organization where our players want to come to work every day with players they want to play with every day and they want to win at the highest level.
“We took great steps towards that last year. We’ve continued to build on that. We’re going to continue to build on that. And I think we all fully believe that if we put the right things in place and give Giannis the right opportunities — he loves Milwaukee, he loves the state of Wisconsin, and I think he will be a Buck for a long time.”
So judge for yourself. It certainly sounds as if Horst was just expressing how he felt about the player, telling the truth as he understands it to be. If there was a mistake it was acknowledging what the battle plan will be.
Regardless of the intent, the Bucks were slapped with the first official penalty since the NBA announced the new penalties on Friday.
To be fair to the NBA, the rule in play regarding Horst and the Bucks is not a new one. Here’s how the pertinent legislation in the CBA reads:
“At no time shall there be any agreements or transactions of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate).”
So, essentially by admitting to the plan of a supermax payday, Horst crossed the line. We guess the Bucks can just add the money to the tab.
According to The Athletic, here is how the supermax contracts work:
Since Antetokounmpo won an MVP or was named to All-NBA team in two of the three years leading up to the final year of his contract, and heads into the eighth, ninth or 10th year of his NBA career and decides to stay with the team that drafted him, he is eligible to sign a five-year, $253.75 million extension on July 1, 2020 that would keep him in Milwaukee through the 2025-26 season.
The Bucks are the only team that can offer a deal that big to Antetokounmpo. Anyone else that wants him can only offer four years.
What’s more, since he meets all specifications, the Bucks can offer a starting salary of 35 percent of the salary cap in 2021-22 with 8 percent escalation in each subsequent year, Other teams are limited to 30 percent of the salary cap with 5 percent escalation.
The bottom line is that Antetokounmpo is going to be very wealthy before the start of next season and the Bucks are in line to maximize that wealth.
They just should have kept quiet about their intentions until the time was right.