Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of the NBA world. He just won a Defensive Player of the Year award and his second consecutive league MVP. However, there is one question that everyone wants answered. What is Antetokounmpo going to do in free agency next year? Is he going to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks, or will he sign with another team? Well, Antetokounmpo might have just given everyone his answer.
Giannis Antetokounmpo just won his second consecutive MVP with the Bucks
Antetokounmpo went to the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He then gradually improved in his first three seasons. After averaging 6.8 points per game and 4.4 rebounds in his rookie season, Antetokounmpo averaged 12.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds in 2014-15, and 16.9 points per game, and 7.7 rebounds in 2015-16.
However, Antetokounmpo became a star during the 2016-17 season. He earned his first All-Star selection that year, and averaged 22.9 points per game, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Then, after getting even better the next year by averaging 26.9 points per game, 10 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, he became one of the best players in the NBA in 2018-19.
Antetokounmpo ultimately earned his first MVP award that season as he averaged 27.7 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He also helped lead the Bucks to a 60-22 record, which was No. 1 in the Eastern Conference.
This season in 2019-20, Antetokounmpo continued to dominate, and the Bucks were, again, one of the best teams in the league. Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points per game, 13.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, and the Bucks went 56-17, which was No. 1 in the Eastern Conference again. On Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, the NBA announced that Antetokounmpo won his second consecutive MVP award.
The Milwaukee Bucks have underperformed in the playoffs
During the 2018-19 season, the Bucks went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Antetokounmpo played well during their playoff run. He averaged 25.5 points per game, 12.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in the playoffs.
However, despite taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Toronto Raptors, the Bucks lost in six games. Antetokounmpo struggled too as he scored 22.7 points per game and shot 44.8% from the field, compared to his season average of 57.8%.
Many people expected the Bucks to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again, at the very least, during the 2019-20 playoffs. Others even predicted them to win the NBA championship. However, the Miami Heat upset Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, defeating them in five games.
He is a free agent after the 2020-2021 season
For the past couple of years, there has been plenty of speculation about what Antetokounmpo will do in free agency as he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season.
While it seems that Antetokounmpo really wants to win with the Bucks, many have wondered if their playoff losses could hurt their chances of keeping him.
In May 2019, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported that reaching the NBA Finals could tip the scales in the Bucks’ favor.
“If they can reach the NBA Finals next season, the Bucks can improve their chances of signing Antetokounmpo to the supermax in the summer of 2020,” Andrews wrote.
As mentioned above, they didn’t reach the Finals. So, it’s hard to see him signing the supermax this offseason.
Additionally, Stephen A. Smith said this in March 2020, according to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.
“I’m told if he doesn’t get to the Finals, he’s leaving. I don’t know if that’s true or not,” Smith said.
According to Yahoo Sports, since losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Antetokounmpo has unfollowed his Bucks teammates on Instagram and Twitter, which has added fuel to the fire. However, he tweeted this on Sept. 15: “Thank you Milwaukee for all the love and support you showed my teammates and I this season. You guys are the best fans in the league. I can’t wait for next season!”
While his future is certainly unclear, Antetokounmpo might have just given the answer everyone has been waiting for.
Giannis Antetokounmpo potentially wants to stay in Milwaukee for 15 years
According to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, Antetokounmpo had this to say on Sept. 18, 2020 about his future, the same day he was named MVP for the second consecutive season.
“As long as everybody’s on the same page and as long as everybody’s fighting for the same thing, fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years,” Antetokounmpo said, according to Nehm.
It appears that Antetokounmpo wants to stay with the Bucks. However, they better prove to him that they want to win a championship. If they don’t, they might see their franchise superstar playing for a different team in a couple of seasons.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference