- Giannis Antetoukounmpo says he will stay in Milwaukee if the Bucks make the “right decision”.
- The NBA’s back to back MVP winner is eligible to sign a super-max deal with Milwaukee.
- The Bucks are a +800 to win the NBA title next season.
It was only two months ago when Giannis Antetokounmpo said he isn’t leaving Milwaukee. It’s not happening, he said after the Milwaukee Bucks came up short for the second consecutive season. He’d rather plow through the wall rather than go in another direction.
But in a recent interview with Swedish media outlet Affonbladet, Antetokounmpo said it now depends on whether the Bucks make the right decision. Said the NBA’s back to back MVP winner:
Giannis Antetokounmpo on his future with the Bucks — “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.”https://t.co/sdA1JmxkFh
— Bucks Nation (@BucksNationCP) November 14, 2020
To the Bucks’ credit, Giannis never mentioned leaving and he even said “we’ll see” if the Bucks don’t make the right decision. He also “hopes” that they can succeed together. But the bottomline is that the Bucks must make the right decision. Now what is that “right decision” that Milwaukee must make? Build a championship team.
Building A Winner is Always Easier Said Than Done
Giannis has led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA during the past two NBA seasons. He’s won the league’s MVP honors in both years and he continues to improve. But he’s not perfect and opponents have been able to take advantage of his weaknesses and his lack of support in Milwaukee.
Make no mistake, Mike Budenholzer has molded the Bucks into a lean and mean fighting machine. Milwaukee has one of the most balanced teams in the league with plenty of players who can contribute and they play with some of the best teamwork in the league. Still those have not been enough to get them past the conference finals in 2019 and the second round this past season.
It’s imminent that the Bucks must upgrade to get better. Giannis has an All-Star teammate in Khris Middleton. But they are not like Bron and AD or Kawhi and PG in L.A or the Splash Brothers in the Bay Area. No, it’s not simple as adding a second or third superstar. It’s finding the right formula to winning the NBA title. That part is always easier said than done.
Not About The Money
Giannis is due for a super-max extension this offseason. That could be worth over $220M over five years if he re-signs with the Bucks. The other teams can offer him a super-max deal as well. However, the best that the other teams can offer is around $140M over four years. The NBA’s CBA is designed so that teams have the best chance of resigning their own players. But then, as Giannis said to Affonbladet, it’s not about the money.
“I do not care about the money. My family is fine and I can take care of my children and grandchildren so that’s not the most important thing right now, it’s winning. As long as we can win and create a winning culture, it will be good.”
This makes Milwaukee’s job trickier because if Giannis wanted to cash in on his back to back MVP wins, then he would take the offer of the highest bidder. That would be the Bucks. But since he wants to win, the Bucks need to upgrade. But is Giannis willing to take a paycut or discount so that Milwaukee can have better cap space to sign the top free agents? That’s a question that he needs to be asked.
While it’s Milwaukee who can offer him the most money, there are a lot of team that can offer him the better chances of winning an NBA championship. The Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat are just two examples. Both teams have signified their desire to go after Antetokounmpo.
The Warriors missed the playoffs during the past season but won three oof four titles from 2015-2018. The Heat meanwhile are coming off a 2020 Finals Appearance where they exceeded expectations. Then there are the Mavs, who have Luka Doncic. A team led by Luka and Giannis would be special. And with all due respect, it would be better than one led by Giannis and Middleton. This part of the story makes it more difficult for Milwaukee.
Bucks Favored To Win The East
According to SportsBetting.ag, Milwaukee is a +375 to top the East and the Bucks are a +800 to win it all next season. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo is a +600 favorite behind Luka Doncic (+500) to win the 2021 NBA MVP award. If the sportsbooks are correct, Giannis and the Bucks should be in the mix for the title next season.
Milwaukee has emerged as one of the elite teams not just in the East but also in the entire NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the main reason behind that and that’s why the Bucks will try to move heaven and earth to keep him in Milwaukee. They need to act fast as the clock is ticking on Antetokounmpo.