Giannis Antetokounmpo is a wanted man. The Milwaukee Bucks superstar forward and reigning league MVP is heading towards the biggest decision of his career: he can either re-sign with the Bucks this summer, or he can become a free agent in 2021. If he chooses the latter, it’s possible the Bucks could try to trade him for a ridiculous amount of draft capital, but it’s not up to them. Everything rides on what Giannis decides to do.
The Bucks have let it be known they fully planned on giving him a huge extension this summer — but that was prior to the coronavirus pandemic. With the NBA season still suspended and no clear plan for the future of the league yet in place, some think the recent hiatus could hurt the power forward’s chances of returning to Milwaukee.
Giannis Has Hinted He Might Leave in the Past
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau, if the NBA should resume its season, it would likely do so with a shortened postseason, which “ups the odds of an upset.” The Bucks were tops in the NBA with a 53-12 record, and if they were to get beat anytime before the NBA finals, it could hurt Giannis’ chances of returning. Why? Because he has reportedly said so himself in the past.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Giannis expressed doubt about staying with the Bucks if they didn’t start winning some championships. “I want the Bucks to build a winning culture. So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult,” Antetokounmpo reportedly said last year. Giannis later denied that specific rumor, but the Sentinel stood by it, saying they had it on tape.
Giannis has also talked publicly about how much fun it would be to play in L.A. with his brothers.
“I think that would be amazing,” Giannis said in February about playing on the same team as his brothers. “Obviously, we’d spend more time together, and I’m 100 percent sure my mom would love that,” he said jokingly, before adding: “But if we could, like, team up on a team, Milwaukee, LA, whatever, that would be awesome.” It seems clear that if Milwaukee doesn’t start winning championships, Giannis would be more than willing to listen to offers from other teams — and according to Letourneau, that team could very well be the Golden State Warriors.
Warriors Have Been ‘Preparing for Years’ to Go After Giannis
Milwaukee may actually benefit from trading Antetokounmpo in the event he declines the extension they will surely offer him. According to Letourneau, the Bucks:
“Might have to start considering offers for him in coming months. Trading Antetokounmpo for a package of assets would be far more palatable than letting him leave as an unrestricted free agent in 2021 if he declines the Bucks’ supermax extension this summer — a five-year deal that could be worth $254 million. Though all indications are that he’s on good terms with management, league sources believe that Antetokounmpo would want out of Milwaukee if he loses confidence in the franchise’s ability to win championships … What would separate Golden State from other suitors, however, is that it could include Klay Thompson or Draymond Green in any potential trade.”
Trading Draymond Green or Klay Thompson in a package for Giannis would be huge, but Letourneau says it could be possible, as the Warriors have been coveting Giannis for awhile now.
“According to a league source, the Warriors have been preparing for years to make a bid for Antetokounmpo,” Letourneau wrote. “General manager Bob Myers knows that to chart a course for long-term greatness, a team must maintain flexibility — both in terms of its roster and future assets.”
Thus, it seems as though the results of the 2020 NBA postseason –if there even is one — could affect where one of the league’s best players ultimately winds up.