Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to become an unrestricted free agent after next year. This offseason, he is eligible for a super max contract from the Milwaukee Bucks worth roughly $254 million.
Obviously the Bucks want to lock him into the franchise long-term, but it is unclear whether Antetokounmpo would prefer the stability of signing on the dotted line now or waiting until 2021. If the reigning league MVP goes with the latter option, then Milwaukee faces a scenario where he may simply leave for nothing following next season.
Some have suggested that if Antetokounmpo ultimately rejects the Bucks’ offer this offseason, the organization should give serious thought to trading him. That way they lose a dominant superstar, but at least they get something in return. It is a bad option, but better than the empty-handed alternative.
However, according to ESPN NBA insider Tim Bontemps, the Bucks are not giving any genuine consideration to the prospect of trading Antetokounmpo away. They will roll the dice and let fate play out as it will.
“Multiple sources have emphatically said Milwaukee will not look to trade Antetokounmpo if he passes on the extension,” according to Bontemps.
“Instead, the Bucks will try to improve their roster and use the next year to show Antetokounmpo why he should stay.”
Not signing with the Bucks this offseason obviously gives Antetokounmpo a lot of leverage as far as forcing roster improvements. Whereas otherwise the organization may be tentative and afraid to risk it all in the event that their star leaves anyway, this way he essentially forces the front office’s hand.
“Waiting would give Antetokounmpo maximum leverage over Milwaukee over the next 12 months,” Bontemps continued.
“If the Bucks are willing to add to their payroll to improve the team — something ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported they are — Milwaukee could chase a significant upgrade in trades (despite being short on prime assets).”
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— Game 7 (@game7__) October 19, 2020
Last week, ESPN NBA insider Ramona Shelburne appeared on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky” show and made a strong case for Antetokounmpo possibly leaving Milwaukee for the Golden State Warriors.
“Can you risk it?” she openly wondered.
“Can you play it out with him (next season) and just hope he re-signs with you (after next season), or do you have to look to move him? And which teams would have the best package?
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“From where I’m sitting guys, that’s the Warriors. They have the best package. People get so upset when I say that, but they do. They have the trade exception, they have (Andrew) Wiggins, they have this year’s pick (No. 2 overall), they have next year’s Minnesota pick (top-three protected in 2021, unprotected in 2022),” she continued.
“Maybe you even have to talk about Klay Thompson or Draymond (Green) being in a package like that, too. But they have a great package if it comes down to it.”
One way or another, this is promising to be an exciting year for Antetokounmpo and Co. Regardless of whether he eventualy leaves or stays, the decision will have massive implications for the NBA as a whole.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.