While the NBA is full of freakish athletes, few men can compare to Giannis Antetokounmpo. As his famous nickname would lead you to believe, the Greek Freak possesses a unique blend of size, strength, and skill. While there’s no guarantee that he’ll hit free agency in 2021, teams around the league will be clamoring for a chance to sign the forward to a long-term deal.
Right now, however, the Bucks are in the midst of a playoff series with the Miami Heat. While those games are obviously crucial for the 2020 postseason, they could also play a major role in shaping Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has become one of the NBA’s biggest stars
These days, virtually every basketball fan knows Giannis Antetokounmpo. In Greece, however, the forward grew up in much more humble circumstances.
As the son of Nigerian immigrants, Giannis’ childhood wasn’t always easy. The family didn’t have a great deal of money, and the Antetokounmpo brothers sold watches and sunglasses on the street to help make ends meet. The boys, however, always found time to play basketball.
Before long, Giannis’ talent became clear. He joined the Filathlitikos organization and, in a matter of seasons, made the jump to the NBA.
Although some scouts were skeptical about Antetokounmpo’s ability to survive in North America, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have any concerns. They snagged the forward with the 15th overall pick of the 2013 draft; in retrospect, that selection was an incredible steal.
Since then, Giannis has grown into his body and developed into a legitimate star. While he’s still not the greatest shooter, the Greek Freak seems capable of doing just about everything on the court; he claimed the 2019 MVP award and, after an even better 2019-20 campaign, seems poised to claim the crown again.
Impending free agency drama
During his time in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo has grown into the face of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise. His time on Wisconsin, however, could be coming to an end.
Barring an extension, the Greek Freak will hit free agency after the 2020-21 season. If that happens, he’ll be the NBA’s most in-demand player; when a legitimate star hits the open market, every team wants a chance to make their pitch.
While Giannis’ future is a multimillion-dollar mystery, no one knows the answer. Although most of the prevailing wisdom suggests he’ll stay in Milwaukee—beyond their contractual advantages, the Bucks have been Antetokounmpo’s team for his entire North American life—rumors continue to swirl. At this point, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Could a playoff loss tempt Giannis Antetokounmpo to join the Miami Heat?
As of now, though, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are more focused on their present and the Miami Heat. That series, however, could change the course of the forward’s future.
It’s been previously reported that, above all else, Giannis wants to win championships; if the Bucks can’t even reach the Eastern Conference Finals, that could cause him to reconsider pledging his future to Milwaukee. It’s also possible, however, that the defeat could convince him to join a talented Miami squad.
“So, let’s read this room,” Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote after the Bucks’ Game 1 loss to the Heat. “I asked the aforementioned front office executive which team Antetokounmpo might wind up with if Miami goes on to finish this job and create such havoc for the Bucks.” His response? The Heat.
While there are some obvious caveats—the executive, for example, could be Pat Riley himself—the move could make sense. Riley, as we saw during the Big Three era, loves to pull the strings and bring big names to South Beach. Bam Adebayo and Giannis are also friends, in addition to sharing an agent. Miami has plenty of appeal without bringing the big city scrutiny of New York or Los Angeles.
It’s safe to assume that, if the Bucks fall to the Miami Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo will have some thinking to do. His conclusion, however, is still anyone’s guess.