Giannis Antetokounmpo Makes Contract Decision, Ending Warriors Chatter

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Getty Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Score one for the NBA small markets while, at the same time, witness a few dreams die in places from Miami to the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning MVP, has agreed to a supermax extension to stay with the team, a five-year contract worth a hefty $228.2 million payout—at least. At an average of $45.6 million per year, Antetokounmpo will be the highest paid player on a per-year basis in the NBA next season, moving ahead of Lakers star LeBron James ($44.5 million).

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The Bucks keeping Antetokounmpo marks one of the most significant contracts in the history of the NBA. He becomes just the sixth player in the NBA to sign a supermax deal, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, joining Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and John Wall. The supermax was put into place as an NBA rule to encourage star players to remain with the teams that drafted them.

While it is a huge moment for the Bucks as a franchise, Antetokounmpo’s deal is a blow to teams around the league that had been protecting cap space to make a run at him in free agency in the summer of 2021, when his current contract expires. The Warriors were long rumored to have targeted Antetokounmpo, either by trade or in free agency, but the Lakers had also planned to make a run at him, as well as the Miami Heat.

That’s not happening. It will be time for contingency plans in all those markets.

Warriors Long Connected to Antetokounmpo

It was never going to be easy to get Antetokounmpo to Golden State, not once Klay Thompson suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury this offseason that will keep him out next year. Most of Golden State’s hope of bringing in Antetokounmpo rested on Thompson being used as a trade chip.

Without him, the best the Bucks could do was to offer a package of Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and next year’s 2021 first-rounder from Minnesota. Milwaukee was never going to go for that.

Back in January, when the Bucks played Golden State, a postgame interaction between Antetokounmpo and injured Warriors star Steph Curry appeared to be highlighted by Curry, according to amateur social media sleuths, saying, “Let’s do it, come on man.”

That’s a decidedly vague and mostly meaningless sentiment. But it resonated with fans, assuming that Curry was talking about teaming up with the Warriors. He wasn’t, as a later tweet from Curry indicated.

Still, that did not stop an onslaught of speculation from fans and media that, somehow the Warriors would swoop in and land Antetokounmpo. That should finally end.

Bucks Went All-In This Offseason

So Antetokounmpo will stay put in Milwaukee. There was speculation that he was not happy with the team in the wake of last year’s playoff flameout, the second straight year the Bucks entered the postseason as the favorite to reach the Finals but failed.

Milwaukee had a disaster of a second-round showing against the Heat, and their season ended in major disappointment there.

The Bucks set out to upgrade the roster significantly this offseason, and did so by adding guard Jrue Holiday as well as backups D.J. Augustin and Torrey Craig. The added forward Bobby Portis, too.

There was some concern about whether that would be enough to persuade Antetokounmpo to re-sign, especially after the Bucks botched a potential sign-and-trade with Sacramento for Bogdan Bogdanovic. Turns out, though, it was plenty to keep the MVP in green.

READ NEXT: Damion Lee Reveals Warriors’ Biggest Trash Talkers

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