At the moment, the NBA is in the middle of an indefinite suspension over concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Should the 2019-20 season resume at some point in the future, it's still unclear how much money the league will end up losing as a result of its hiatus. This potentially huge financial hit, as suggested in a recent report, might help determine whether Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with the team or not.
As explained by Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, the Bucks have a lot at stake with Antetokounmpo, the 2018-19 MVP who led the team to a league-best 53-12 record at the time the suspension was announced. The 25-year-old is preparing to enter the final year of his contract, which will pay him $27.5 million for the 2020-21 campaign, though Milwaukee will be able to offer him a "supermax" extension this summer — a deal Pincus believes he will "certainly" accept if he commits to the Bucks. If he refuses the offer, this will allow him to enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021.
Given the possibility of Antetokounmpo joining the free-agent class of 2021, a number of teams have been making moves to free up salary-cap space to sign the "Greek Freak" to a maximum contract. However, the NBA's suspension — and the potential economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic — could lead to a significant salary-cap drop for the 2020-21 season. The league's present projection for the 2020-21 cap is at around $115 million, according to Pincus.
"But whatever the answer, the league will undoubtedly take a financial hit, and roughly half of that loss will be passed onto the players, likely in the form of a lower salary cap. For instance, if the league loses $1.2 billion dollars, the cap could drop by $20 million; a $2.4 billion loss would theoretically translate into a $40 million dip. "In addition, Pincus warned that the fact that "so many" players are under contract for 2020-21 could lead to another steep drop in the salary cap per team for the following campaign, even if the NBA recovers financially next season.
"[I]f the cap takes a significant hit, the financial difference between Antetokounmpo staying and going would drop along with it," he added.
As of now, it's still unclear whether the NBA and its players' association will make any moves to mitigate such seismic changes to the league's salary-cap system, or what those moves could be. That, per Pincus, could make Antetokounmpo's situation even more fluid, with the impact on the player and his team possibly being "significant in either direction." But with basketball being the farthest thing from most people's minds during this time of crisis, the Bleacher Report writer concluded by saying that all eyes should be on Antetokounmpo and the Bucks once the NBA resumes operations.