Giannis Antetokounmpo left a lot of money on the table last summer

Feb 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Giannis Antetokounmpo during the All Star media availability at the Ritz Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Giannis Antetokounmpo during the All Star media availability at the Ritz Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Giannis  Antetokounmpo knew he was taking a pay cut when he signed his extension, but he didn’t know exactly how much he was leaving on the table.

Ah, how different life was just a year ago for Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks All-Star was not an All-Star then, but rather just a talented forward who had a strong end to the regular season.

Although Giannis himself might not have changed much, his paychecks are going to look a whole lot different starting next season. The Greek Freak signed a four-year, $100 million extension last summer.

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to the news, and at the time Woj wrote that the contract would be “nearly a max contract” for Giannis. As chronicled by Adam McGee at the time, Bucks GM John Hammond spoke about Giannis leaving some money on the table and how it could help the Bucks going forward:

"“There was a max number out there, and that was discussed internally and externally. The one thing we asked Giannis to do was take that into consideration as we move forward to give us every opportunity 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.”"

According, once again, to Woj, the NBA’s projected salary cap for 2017-18 is right around $101 million. Giannis could sign for 25 percent of that cap, meaning his first year max salary on his new deal would be $25 million.

Given that Milwaukee controls Giannis’ bird rights since he’s been a Buck for four years, he would’ve been eligible for 7.5 percent raises from season to season under the old collective bargaining agreement.

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The new CBA raises the percentage to eight, meaning players can get more money added each season. That means the most Giannis could sign a four-year deal for starting next season would be $113.78 million, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars for rounding and small salary cap adjustments.

If Antetokounmpo had wanted more stability, he could’ve taken the full five-year max for a total of $148.08 million last summer. Those figures won’t be official until the new cap is finalized by the league, but barring something dramatic it’s safe to say Giannis left somewhere around $12 million on the table.

He almost left a whole lot more. According to the new NBA CBA, any deal signed by a player on a rookie scale contract who has met certain criteria is eligible for the designated player exception, formerly known as the Rose rule.

For deals that start in 2018-19, the criteria are as follows:

"(i) the player was named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team, or was named Defensive Player of the Year, in the immediately preceding Season or in two (2) Seasons during the immediately preceding three (3) Seasons; or (ii) the player was named NBA MVP during one of the immediately preceding three (3) Seasons."

Giannis will almost certainly make an All-NBA team this season, meaning if the rules kicked in a year earlier he would be eligible for a much larger contract–something like $137.7 million over four years or nearly $180 million over five.

Unfortunately for the hypothetical Greek Freak who took the max from Milwaukee, the criteria are different for deals that start in 2017-18:

"(i) the player is named twice to the All-NBA first, second, or third team; (ii) the player is voted in twice as an All-Star starter; or (iii) the player is designated once as NBA MVP;"

Giannis has started the All-Star game once, will likely have an All-NBA team appearance on his belt and will garner some fifth-place MVP votes. According to the CBA, that’s not enough to get him a richer deal just yet.

Antetokounmpo will probably qualify for the designated veteran player exception at the end of his next deal, meaning he’ll be able to get 35 percent of the cap in his first year instead of 30 percent. If he keeps playing like he has lately, that will be a no-brainer decision for the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Signing Giannis to whatever deal he wanted last summer was too. The Greek Freak left a few million on the table in signing that deal, but without knowing what the rules would be for max deals going forward it’s hard to fault either party for getting a contract done with certain figures back then.