The Milwaukee Bucks saw their season come to an end in disappointing fashion Tuesday night, losing in five games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Now, the focus shifts to a very important offseason, highlighted by decisions around the future of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The soon-to-be two-time NBA MVP was forced to watch the final six-plus quarters of the playoffs due to a sprained ankle and some national pundits wondered aloud if we had seen the last of Antetokounmpo in a Milwaukee uniform.
He’s under contract for one more year and he’s actually eligible for the supermax extension when free agency opens in October. Prior to the shutdown, the contract would have been five years and nearly $254 million. The Bucks leadership said earlier this year they plan to offer that to their franchise player, but, according to ESPN, people around the league don’t expect him to sign it.
Still, when he spoke with reporters after the game he didn’t sound like a man ready to leave the only home he’s know since coming to the United States.
“Hopefully, we can learn from this and get better as a team and come back,” Antetokounmpo said. “Hopefully, we can build a culture in Milwaukee that, for many years, we can come out here and compete every single year for a championship.”
If he doesn’t sign it, Milwaukee could still compete for a title next season, but it also opens up the possibility that he leaves next year and they get nothing. The thought of trading him just to get something in return this offseason has been talked about but it would go against everything the franchise has done since it became a contender. Some had also suggested that Antetokounmpo could force the issue himself, demanding a trade the way another superstar — Anthony Davis — did in 2019 to get out of New Orleans.
For his part, Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports he would not pull such a maneuver.
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Chris Haynes. “Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”