The “Greek Freak” has a lot of big decisions to make. 2021 is the final year of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. If the reigning MVP enters free agency, teams throughout the NBA will try to acquire the power forward. Will Antetokounmpo stay with the only team he’s ever known or look for greener pastures?
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s NBA career with the Bucks
The Bucks chose Antetokounmpo in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft. The 18-year-old was one of the youngest NBA players ever. In his early years in Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo kept improving. The 2016-17 season was his breakout year. He became a starter in the All-Star Game and earned a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. He also won the Most Improved Player award.
The next few seasons saw success for both Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The team reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019, and Antetokounmpo earned the NBA MVP. There were high hopes for the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a bit of a wrinkle in basketball play.
After COVID-19 postponed the season for a few months, the Bucks finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA. Although they lost in the second round of playoffs, Antetokounmpo was again named league MVP. But was that playoff run enough to keep Antetokounmpo a Milwaukee Buck? That’s the speculation rapidly consuming the league.
Will Antetokounmpo stay with the Bucks?
With a contract extension set to expire, all the talk around Milwaukee and the league is if he’ll stay or go. After the Bucks were ousted from the playoffs, Antetokounmpo told ESPN, “Hopefully, we can build a culture in Milwaukee for many years [and] come out here and compete every single year for a championship.” So it sounds like as long as the Bucks can find ways to keep winning, Antetokounmpo is set to stay.
And that’s what the Bucks’ front office is hoping for. There has been much speculation that management is not looking to trade Antetokounmpo but will instead try to improve the team around him for the upcoming season to show him why he needs to stay put.
And management’s faith in Antetokounmpo might just pay off. Many times the front office will actively seek a trade if they feel the star player won’t commit to a contract. They’d rather try to recoup some of their money, but it looks like the Bucks are trying everything they have to keep Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.
What the experts say
With the constant speculation, ESPN put together a team of analysts to give their opinions on what Antetokounmpo will do. 73% of the panel decided Antetokounmpo should wait until after next season to decide. Almost 77% think he definitely will wait until after next season to make the decision.
No matter what he decides, the payoff will be huge. Either a new contract or an extension carries the same terms: five years and 35% of the 2021-22 salary cap. If Antetokounmpo doesn’t sign the super-max contract extension this offseason, the pressure is on Milwaukee. They’ll need to assemble a group around him that’ll take the team deep into the playoffs.
These decisions made during this offseason could ultimately affect the Milwaukee Bucks and the entire NBA for years to come. A player of Antetokounmpo’s caliber is on a championship level. There are plenty of teams looking to get him on their rosters.