Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s moment has arrived.
He won Most Valuable Player, yes. But he’s also the center of speculation as he approached 2021 unrestricted free agency. He could head that off by signing a super-max extension with the Bucks this summer.
In the meantime, every word he says will be scrutinized for clues about his future.
That includes grainy video today from Greece, where – because Milwaukee already got bounced from the playoffs – Antetokounmpo conducted a conference call with reporters and an interview on NBA TV about his award.
The Bucks’ season is so far in the rearview mirror, Antetokounmpo already met with Bucks ownership and returned home. Now, attention turns to his long-term outlook.
I have two great agents that help with that, and I know they’re going to put me in the best situation to be successful with the team or another team. But at the end of the day, I had a great conversation with the owner. And as I know so far, we’re on the same page. And I want to be in Milwaukee for the rest of my career. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to want the same thing, which is a championship.
As long as everybody is on the same page and as long as everybody is fighting for the same thing … every single day, which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years?
I believe Antetokounmpo prefers to find a way to stay with the Bucks. But even while professing his loyalty, Antetokounmpo had made clear he doesn’t hold blind allegiance to Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo’s agent, Alex Saratsis, said in February, “Everything is open.”
Yet, this is the first time I recall Antetokounmpo himself so directly mentioning the possibility of joining “another team.”
The other time he supposedly said something like that, he claimed he was misquoted.
Of course, you could focus on other portions of his responses today like: “I want to be in Milwaukee for the rest of my career.” Yet, there’s that “we’ve got to want the same thing, which is a championship” caveat.
Two major questions:
1. How willing are the Bucks to pay the luxury tax to maximize Milwaukee’s title chances?
2. Even with a financial commitment from ownership, how equipped are the Bucks to win after a couple years of shortcuts?
Antetokounmpo must evaluate.
But he’s not just putting the onus on the organization. He spoke about working to continuing to improve, doing his part to achieve his main goal.
When talking about his 2019 MVP, Antetokounmpo said at the time, “Please, after this day, don’t call me MVP because until I win it again next year.”
Is he ready to be called MVP now?
Don’t call me MVP. Don’t call me two-times MVP until I’m a champion.