This summer, Giannis Antetokunmpo is eligible to sign the biggest contract in the history of the NBA, a five-year supermax extension worth around $250 million depending on where the league’s salary cap lands.
Whether he’ll sign it has been the focus of NBA speculation for better than a year now and it’s not just those in the Bucks organization that are holding their collective breath. Most realistically, Antetokounmpo has been linked to the Warriors, Heat and Raptors as potential destinations for the Greek Freak.
And there are the Lakers. The team will be in position to pursue Antetokounmpo in 2021 if he does not re-sign with Milwaukee.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the threshold for Antetokounmpo staying put will be right in front of us this spring: The Finals. Smith said he was, “told if he doesn’t get to the Finals, he’s leaving.”
Smith made that assertion at this year’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, though he tempered his remark quickly by saying that it may or may not be true, which is pretty much the case with any bit of speculation anyone around Antetokounmpo makes—it may or may not be true.
Bucks’ Playoff Run Key to Keeping Antetokounmpo
Still, this is in line with what folks around the league have been saying throughout the season. As one general manager told me, “They’ve been a bad team in the playoffs the last couple of years. They’ve underperformed. They can’t underperform again.”
Asked if that meant the Bucks had to make The Finals, he said, “I would think so. The East, there’s no one who should beat them in the East. It’s Milwaukee and then it is everyone else—Boston, Miami, Toronto. Philadelphia is a mess. If they flop again there, you’ve got to start thinking something is wrong with the mix of players, maybe it’s time to find a new mix.”
Antetokounmpo himself has been reluctant to address the situation with his contract directly. That’s been his policy since the Bucks held their media day in early October.
“I thought about it this summer when I was sitting down with my family that if you have a great team — and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing — I think it’s disrespectful to my teammates to talk about my free agency and what I’m going to do,” Antetokounmpo said.
“When the time is right we’re all gonna talk about it. I don’t think the time is right right now. I’m focused on getting better every day and going out there and competing as hard as we can. I’m not gonna talk about it a lot this season, and I’m not gonna try to address it.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo Fueled Lakers Rumors
Still, the speculation around Antetokounmpo has overheated throughout the year and it was Giannis himself who provided significant fuel for that fire when he talked about potentially playing in Los Angeles, where his younger brother, Kostas, is currently on the roaster as a two-way player. Kostas Antetokounmpo has appeared in only three games for the Lakers. He has averaged 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Lakers’ G-League affiliate.
Asked about the possibility of playing with his brothers (his older brother Thanasis is a teammate with the Bucks), Giannis said, “I think that’d be amazing. Obviously we’d spend more time together. I’m 100 percent sure my mom would love that. But if we could end up on a team in Milwaukee, L.A. whatever, that’d be awesome.”
We don’t know, however, if that’s true or not.