A lot of free agency dominos will fall once Giannis Antetokounmpo decides whether or not to sign a supermax contract extension in Milwaukee — although it could be next offseason before he makes that call.
Which way is Antetokounmpo leaning? In an interview in Sweeden — where he is vacationing with family — he said he could spend his entire career in Milwaukee, but the ball is in their court. From the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet (with a hat tip to Swedish journalist Alexander Nilsson and CBS Sports).
Antetokounmpo: “There are a lot of rumors. Everyone has opinions. But at the end of the day, I will do what is best for my family. I do not see why I could not be in Milwaukee for several years. As long as Milwaukee and I are on the same page when it comes to being one of the best teams in the league and winning championships, that’s fine. When it changes, it will not be good. It’s easy, I want to be a winner… As long as we can win and create a winning culture, it will be good.”
Aftonbladet: So your plan is to stay in Milwaukee next year and then maybe sign an extension?
Giannis: “I do not know what the plan is. It depends on what decisions they make. If they make the right decision, I’ll be there for many years. If they do not, we’ll see. The NBA is business and we take it day by day. Hopefully we can succeed together.”
This follows the pattern Antetokounmpo has followed for some time now — keep the pressure on the Bucks organization to improve the roster. It was the LeBron James playbook in Cleveland. In this case, Antetokounmpo met with Buck ownership after the season ended and that reportedly went well. The Bucks told the Greek Freak they would pay the tax to contend, but waiting to sign until next summer keeps the pressure up.
Most likely, Antetokounmpo will put his name on the supermax contract extension eventually, will be worth between $228.2 million and $243.7 million (the final number depends on where the salary cap for the 2021-22 season lands). Sources have told NBC Sports they expect him to sign to stay in Milwaukee, and a recent poll of agents found the same thing.
However, just the possibility of landing a two-time MVP entering his prime will force Dallas, Miami, and the other suitors to keep the options open. Just in case. Which is the kind of pressure Antetokounmpo wants Milwaukee’s management to feel.