This offseason the Milwaukee Bucks spent big to make Giannis Antetokounmpo happy. They re-signed Khris Middleton (three years, $93 million) and Brook Lopez (two years, $48 million), plus they fired the coach a lot of people around the team thought was holding the Bucks back in the playoffs (Mike Budenholzer) and hired the guy Antetokounmpo wanted to replace him, first-time head coach Adrian Griffin.
Then next summer, the Bucks will offer Antetokounmpo the largest contract in NBA history, five years and it could be worth up to an estimated $334 million.
However, what would make Antetokounmpo happy is another ring and he has consistently said if he has the better chance to win elsewhere, he will take it. The Greek Freak said that a couple of years ago, he repeated it last month, and he said it again on a new episode of the 48 Minutes podcast.
“I’m a Milwaukee Buck, but most importantly I’m a winner… If there is a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brien I have to take that better situation.”
There’s nothing new here, and Antetokounmpo is not pushing his way out the door. The Bucks will be one of the clear title contenders heading into this season (and likely the next one). Milwaukee fans can exhale (as much as fans of any team with a superstar player can ever exhale).
However, with the rest of the team’s core — Jrue Holiday, Middleton, Lopez — all at least 32 years old, a pivot will have to come in a couple of years. Everyone sees it, including Antetokounmpo. He’s making it clear to Milwaukee that winning matters more than anything when that happens. Again, this is nothing new, but you can see why teams from New York to Miami to Los Angeles are watching his situation to see if the two-time MVP will become available in his prime in the next couple of years.
The real test comes next summer when the Bucks put that largest-ever contract in front of Antetokounmpo. If he signs it — and the smart money is still on him grabbing the bag and staying — things stay the same. If he doesn’t sign it, then it’s chaos.
Antetokounmpo also said in the podcast that he would work out with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, polishing up his post moves.
“This season for the training camp I have a trip that I’m going to go down to Houston and try to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon. I love his game and if I can kind of take a few things from his game or learn anything from the few days I’m going to spend with him it’s going to be a blessing.”
Antetokounmpo keeps adding to his game, which is one of the reasons he is a two-time MVP. Him in the post just adds another weapon to his game (and gets him buckets near the rim, where he is a force. This season he won’t be focused on his next contract or anything other than his coming baby girl and winning a ring.
The big questions come next summer. Until then, it is business as usual in Milwaukee.