Fresh off a premature exit from the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves in a precarious position regarding two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s set to become a free agent following the 2020-21 season. It has led to rumors that Milwaukee might be forced to trade the Greek Freak during the offseason.
All of that might be premature at this point. Antetokounmpo met with the Bucks’ brass following the season. Nothing concrete has come out of said meeting.
Despite this, rumors continue to persist that Milwaukee might have to trade Antetokounmpo in order to avoid potentially losing him once NBA free agency comes calling in the Summer of 2021.
Not so fast.
“Multiple sources have emphatically said Milwaukee will not look to trade Antetokounmpo if he passes on the extension. Instead, the Bucks will try to improve their roster and use the next year to show Antetokounmpo why he should stay,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported Monday.
The Bucks will ultimately offer Antetokounmpo a five-year, $227.5 million super-max contract extension at some point this fall or winter. It’s more than any other team would be able to offer the NBA’s best player in free agency next summer.
Money won’t be the biggest determining factor when it comes to Giannis’ decision. The Bucks’ ability to contend long-term coupled with their presence in a small media market will both also play roles here. That’s magnified with teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors already linked to Antetokounmpo.
That’s the million-dollar question. As we saw with Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season, the Bucks might not have much of a choice here. If Giannis demands a trade, he could make things rather difficult for the team.
With that said, the Bucks are smart to put this news out on the rumor mill. Even if they are forced into a trade, upping the ante in a potential Antetokounmpo deal makes the most sense.
Antetokounmpo, 25, remains a transcendent figure around the NBA world. Last season alone, the forward averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists on 55% shooting from the field.
Whether he’s traded or hits free agency next summer, this will continue to be among the biggest items on the NBA rumor mill. That’s for sure.