ANXIETY in Milwaukee over Giannis Antetokounmpo staying with the Bucks beyond this season continues to rise.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) MVP said Wednesday he has locked in on the 2020 season, not his much-discussed future.
“Right now, I am not focused on that,” Antetokounmpo said Wednesday. “I am just trying to focus on myself.”
Antetokounmpo, who turned 26 on Sunday, faces an NBA-imposed deadline of Dec. 21 to decide whether he’ll sign a “supermax” contract with the Bucks and remain with the team or roll the dice and consider entering free agency after the 2020-21 season. The Bucks can offer a five-year, $228.2 million deal that would increase to $243.7 million if the league salary cap returns to pre-COVID levels.
His current, expiring deal was worth $100 million for four years.
Antetokounmpo said Wednesday he’s leaving any contract talks to his agent, Alex Saratsis.
Before reporting to the Bucks last week, Antetokounmpo told a TV station in Greece that he is open to teaming up with another superstar — as LeBron James did with Anthony Davis last season — if it means winning.
“This is a statement that I have never made before: If LeBron and Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis came to Milwaukee; I would have been good with that,” Antetokounmpo said. “I am not interested if I am the top, second or third name, okay? Because I want to win.
“For sure, when I was 18 or 19 years old, maybe I didn’t understand what you need to do to win. But right now, I am 25 and I want to win because when I retire, that’s what people will remember. And if I got LeBron, KD, Davis, if all those came, I wouldn’t mind at all. I don’t care if I am the top (player) on the team.”
Multiple teams have been rumored to be waiting in the wings for the two-time NBA MVP if he opts not to stay in Milwaukee, including the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.
By then, it will be clear to Bucks teammates, including All-Star Khris Middleton, whether the “Greek Freak” is long for Wisconsin.
“I have confidence in what we’ve done in the past and what we can do forward,” Middleton said, reminiscing on his own free agency decision. “So as long as I’m confident in that and show him that I’m confident in what we can do and what we can accomplish and keep grinding together, I’m not going to worry about it too much.” — Reuters