The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo have done a great job this season keeping the subject of Giannis’ next contract on the back-burner. However, as the captain of one of the All-Star teams this weekend in Chicago, the reigning MVP couldn’t entirely avoid the spotlight or dodge questions about his future.
Asked by Mackenzie Salmon of SportsPulse (video link) whether he’d want to continue building his legacy with the Bucks if the team were to win a championship, Antetokounmpo was initially noncommittal before suggesting he’d like to keep winning in Milwaukee.
“I can’t think that far ahead. I’m just trying to focus on the moment and get better,” Giannis said. “But why not? I’m a guy that wants to be with a team for a while. As long as we’re winning. And we’re winning so far, so I don’t think anything’s going to change.”
Antetokounmpo won’t be eligible for free agency until the summer of 2021. However, the Bucks will have the opportunity during the 2020 offseason to offer him a super-max extension worth an estimated $254M over five years, and they intend to do so. If Giannis doesn’t accept that offer, the club will start to get a little nervous.
So far though, there’s no reason to believe Antetokounmpo isn’t happy with the Bucks, who have an NBA-best 46-8 record this season. His agent, Alex Saratsis, told Pete Zervakis of TMJ4 News that his client “believes in loyalty,” adding that he thinks Giannis feels a “kinship” to the city of Milwaukee, which has been his home since he came over from Greece. Asked if he could see Antetokounmpo staying with one team for his entire career, Saratsis confirmed it’s a realistic possibility.
“Yeah, I think so. Obviously everybody talks about his impending free agency, and I think everything is open,” Saratsis said. “I think he’s someone who could easily say, ‘I’d like to be in Milwaukee my entire career.’ I think he’s also someone who, depending on how the team does, could say, ‘I need a change.’ But for him, staying is absolutely a viable option.”
Although neither Antetokounmpo nor Saratsis suggests that Giannis has completely made up his mind yet, the fact that team success was a common thread in both their comments has to be an encouraging sign for the Bucks, who are on a 70-win pace. A deep playoff run – ideally one that ends with a championship – will be the next step in convincing the star forward that a long-term deal in Milwaukee is the right move.