Giannis Antetokounmpo is not just the best Greek player in NBA history (Kurt Rambis is probably the next closest). He’s one of the best players period in the league right now.
The “Greek Freak” is in the top-10 in scoring this season (27.7 points per game), and adds 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per contest. At 6-foot-11, he has Kevin Durant height but adds 242 pounds to drive the paint a la James Harden. The Bucks smartly invested in him, which helped the franchise earn the No. 1 overall seed in the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
The former first-rounder signed a 4-year, $100 million contract before the 2017-18 season. He accumulated $24.15 million this year and is set to earn over $25 million in 2020 and $27 million in 2021.
That’s a hefty paycheck for a team in a smaller market like Milwaukee. Fortunately for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, don’t expect Antetokounmpo to leave for brighter lights. Let’s take a look at his comments about his future with the franchise.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Future With Milwaukee Bucks
The Daily Express talked about rumors that linked Antetokounmpo to trades with the Lakers, Warriors and Knicks, but more so how he was slapping those away.
But NBA expert Chris Haynes does not think any of the biggest franchises are that appealing to the Milwaukee star.
“He is not going to the bright lights and the big cities, that is not the attraction for him,” Haynes told Hoops Hype podcast.
“So what you have to understand is from the small working teams is that you have a chance that you can win.
“At the end of the day Giannis is a loyal guy so long as long as Milwaukee is a competitive side in the Championship hunt.
In fact, he’s shown massive disappointment in players leaving Milwaukee, such as center Thon Maker in a trade to Detroit two months ago.
With that said, a former GM talked with Hoops Hype before the season about he thinks there is no way the Bucks guard stays in Milwaukee past this contract. This take didn’t expect the Bucks to become the best team in the NBA this season, so it’s possible it’s different now.
“On that first deal, you’re the only one able to give him the life-changing money, for the most part, and a guy is typically going to take the life-changing money no matter who he is,” the former GM said. “On the second contract, if a player is getting a max contract then that probably means there is more than one team willing to offer that same deal… Market definitely matters. In the first max contract [when a player is restricted], it doesn’t matter much. In the second deal, you know there’s only certain places a guy will go. Certain franchises have to build their team knowing they aren’t a destination for second-contract max players… It’s tough for small-market teams.”
SI.com’s Rohan Nadkarni points out that the success this season could actually lead to a big name joining forces with Antetokounmpo this summer. It would require letting some combination of Brook Lopez, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton go in free agency this summer.
The Middleton decision will really be a big one. It seems obvious to pay him, but smaller market teams that historically aren’t popular free-agent destinations can’t afford to miss on a deal like that one. A supermax for Giannis only further complicates the issue. Antetokounmpo is obviously worth every penny, but with him on a mega deal, and Middleton on a max one, the Bucks’ flexibility is hampered considerably. Basically, if Middleton is brought back, the front office has to have complete confidence him and Giannis are championship material, because bringing in another star will get complicated.
Middleton has turned into a hot commodity after scoring 18.3 points per game this season, but with several stars on the free agent market this summer, his contract coming off the ledger, along with a handful of others, could make room for a big name.
Whether that’s Anthony Davis or whoever, a move would be the cherry on top it seems for keeping Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.