The Knicks have informed the representatives for Thanasis Antetokounmpo that they will likely sign him to an NBA deal for next season, agent Tim Lotsos tells Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Last summer, the athletic forward turned down a two-year, $550K deal overseas to play for the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester. Now, it seems like his sacrifice will pay off rather immediately.
Lotsos tells Begley that Antetokounmpo’s “first goal” is to play for the Knicks, but he also wants to get his NBA opportunity. The Knicks have been wowed by the small forward’s athleticism, but they’ve also wanted him to get a little more polished before making the leap to the Association. Last year, when the Knicks were clearly out of the playoff mix, there was some speculation that the Greek standout could get a call up to the varsity squad, but that never materialized.
The Knicks could offer Antetokounmpo a tender for next season and retain his rights, but that would give him the opportunity to seize a more lucrative overseas deal this time around. Last year, Antetokounmpo earned just $25K, less than 10% of what he would have made elsewhere.
Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, was drafted late in the second round of the 2014 draft by team president Phil Jackson, who was very impressed with his athleticism. Antetokounmpo averaged 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes this past season in the D-League, but Begley hears from scouts that say he’s still too raw and too inconsistent with his jumper to contribute at the next level.