“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” Antetokounmpo is quoted as saying. “So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.”
That quote came via Harvard professor Anita Elberse, who was researching the challenges small-market teams face in the NBA, particularly with superstar players.
But Antetokounmpo – who has repeatedly touted his loyalty – tells another story.
Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
If the interview was recorded, we’ll likely learn the truth soon enough.
But the hysteria surrounding the quote is so misplaced, regardless.
What Antetokounmpo is quoted as saying is so painstakingly obvious. The Bucks underperforming next season would make him more likely to leave Milwaukee? Duh.
Antetokounmpo has also said something very similar previously. In explaining his views on loyalty and Kevin Durant, Antetokounmpo said a team must do right to support a player in his quest for a championship.
Really, the Bucks should be encouraged by how Antetokounmpo framed the issue. It shows Antetokounmpo’s default position is staying. The difficult decision comes if Milwaukee underperforms. My inference: Meet or exceed expectations, and Antetokounmpo will return. Even underperforming doesn’t guarantee a departure.
No matter what he told the Harvard professor, the Bucks are headed toward Antetokounmpo’s contract decision. The best case they can make is winning. Nobody should need a quote to figure that out.