Giannis Antetokounmpo says he is open to teaming up with another superstar

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Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t one to buddy up with other NBA superstars. He’s didn’t come up through the American AAU system where he got to know other elite young players, and he’s not a guy taking banana boat vacations to the Caribbean with his superstar buddies. Antetokounmpo keeps a tight circle — which includes his brothers in the league Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Kostas Antetokounmpo — and likes it that way.

That doesn’t mean Antetokounmpo wouldn’t team up with another superstar.

Here is what he told COSMOTE TV in Greece while on vacation there (hat tip eurohoops.net).

“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. 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.”

Be sure to note he said if LeBron or Davis came to Milwaukee — just in case anyone was trying to read anything into what the Greek Freak was saying. The “Antetokounmpo is coming to team up with LeBron James” speculation that came out those comments are Lakers’ exceptionalism at its worst.

Giannis also had words for people thinking there was jealously because Kostas Antetokounmpo won a ring this year with the Lakers before Giannis did.

“Those who say: “Kostas won a title before Giannis”. Guys, that thing does not exist. We were all sleeping together in a small room. And Thanasis is a two-time Greek champion, Kostas is an NBA champion and I am a two-time MVP. We are one family. Imagine what my mother is feeling”.

Whether or not Antetokounmpo will sign the super-max contract extension in front of him to stay with the Bucks remains the biggest story hanging over the NBA.

He has until Dec. 21 to decide — he can get the exact same contract from the Bucks next offseason, but not signing now would break the dam on speculation about if he wants to stay with the Bucks, if they have to trade him (Milwaukee would not do that), and much more. Sources have told NBC Sports it is likely Antetokounmpo re-signs with Milwaukee, either now or next summer — and the Bucks are confident he will — but he is such a singular talent that other teams are keeping cap space open specifically waiting to see what he does. Others have set themselves up for trades to land him, just in case.

Antetokounmpo’s decision, whatever it is, is the first domino to fall in a lot of other moves.

For now, all he wants to talk about is winning.

 

 

 

 

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.