Winner: the 2017-18 to 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks
By getting Antetokounmpo to take less than the projected $106 million maximum salary for a four-year rookie extension -- which could have become even larger, but more on that in a second -- Milwaukee wins big.
In fact, from the team perspective, Antetokounmpo's contract figures to be one of the NBA's best over the next four seasons.
Based on the development of similar players from my SCHOENE projection system and his rating in ESPN's real plus-minus, I project Antetokounmpo to provide 8.7 wins above replacement player (WARP) in 2017-18, the first year of his extension, and 9.3 WARP the following season.
On the open market, such production would be worth far more than the maximum salary. I estimate Antetokounmpo would be worth about $40 million a year in a world without limits on player salaries.
So getting Antetokounmpo signed to any kind of extension would have been good news for the Bucks. Getting him to take less than the max -- which ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported? was his choice to help the team retain its young core -- is a coup.
Remember, Antetokounmpo won't turn 22 until December. He's nearly a full year younger than Buddy Hield, drafted sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in June. Yet we've already seen Antetokounmpo produce at an All-Star level, during the second half of last season. After the All-Star break, the Bucks put the ball in Antetokounmpo's hands as a point forward, and the results were spectacular: He averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game and recorded five triple-doubles in 28 games.
Advanced stats were just as effusive about Antetokounmpo's level of play. He ranked eighth in the NBA with 5.5 WARP after the All-Star break, more than he managed before the break (3.3) in barely more than half as many games. If Antetokounmpo maintains anything close to that level of play, he'll be an enormous bargain.
Loser: The 2021-22 Milwaukee Bucks
The one concern about this deal is the Bucks' signing Antetokounmpo for four years instead of the maximum possible five on a rookie extension. Because he's so young, Antetokounmpo will be early in his prime when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2021 at age 26. The Bucks could face pressure to be competitive enough by that point to keep Antetokounmpo around or decide whether to trade him beforehand, though such decisions are years away.
A five-year extension would have required Milwaukee to use its designated player spot on Antetokounmpo and give him the maximum possible salary during that span. Upcoming negotiations on a likely new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players make the latter aspect tricky.
The league could increase the maximum salary for players with 0 to 6 years' experience from 25 percent of a caplike figure to 30 percent, or change the criteria for the so-called " Derrick Rose rule" by which certain players qualify to make up to 30 percent of their extensions. That new provision was retroactively applied to Kevin Durant's extension after the last CBA was signed, setting precedent for doing the same with any true max extensions this fall.
A 30 percent max salary would start at a projected $28.6 million and pay Antetokounmpo $27 million more over the next four years than the extension he actually signed. It's tough to say whether that extra salary would be worth the security of having Antetokounmpo under contract another season.
Winner: Michael Carter-Williams
Carter-Williams probably lost his starting job at point guard when Antetokounmpo took over the position during the second half of last season, but his teammate helped even things up here. If the Bucks and Antetokounmpo had decided to hold off on an extension to take advantage of his small cap hold next summer, that might have forced Milwaukee to renounce the rights to Carter-Williams to clear additional space.
Now, with Antetokounmpo locked in at an expected starting salary of $22.5 million, the Bucks will almost certainly operate over the cap even if Greg Monroe unexpectedly picks up his 2017-18 player option (if Monroe is even still on the roster by that point). As a result, Milwaukee wouldn't benefit financially in the short term from letting Carter-Williams walk, making it more likely he returns to the team.
An extension still seems like a long shot because both the Bucks and Carter-Williams will want to see how his role evolves with Antetokounmpo as a lead ball handler, and Milwaukee may have to worry about paying the luxury tax in 2018-19 when Jabari Parker will be up for a big raise, but either way, Carter-Williams should have more options.
Loser: Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers were the first team to sign a 2013 draft pick to a rookie extension, handing C.J. McCollum a four-year, $106 million deal, and they might have to wonder now whether they would have been better off waiting for Antetokounmpo to set the market.
It would have been difficult for McCollum's representation to make the case he should be paid more than Antetokounmpo, who was far more productive during the second half of last season and is more than 3 years younger. Given that Portland will surely pay the luxury tax in 2017-18, every dollar counts.
At the same time, the other teams looking to extend their 2013 draft picks should be thrilled by this below-market contract. While Antetokounmpo's taking less than his value won't change what players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rudy Gobert and Victor Oladipo could command in restricted free agency, it makes a demand for max salary somewhat less reasonable.