With the Bucks in a 2-0 hole against Miami, there may be a lot more at stake than just winning a playoff series. Several suitors have their eyes on Giannis Antetokounmpo, writes Vincent G0odwill of Yahoo Sports, and Miami is making a strong bid by winning the first two games.
The Heat and Raptors are considered the frontrunners to eventually land Antetokounmpo, with one source telling Goodwill it’s an “open secret” on the Disney World campus. The Bucks star is headed for free agency in 2021 if he doesn’t agree to a new deal with Milwaukee. General manager Jon Horst has said the team plans to offer a supermax deal to the reigning MVP, but Antetokounmpo’s interest in staying with the Bucks could be tied to their playoff success.
Although Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers in the first two games against Miami, averaging 24.5 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, the Heat defense designed by coach Eric Spoelstra has made him work for everything. Goodwill notes that Milwaukee has looked off-balance so far, with Miami dictating the style and pace of play.
“This is what great players do, present challenges,” Spoelstra said of facing Antetokounmpo. “You want it to be easy? It’s not gonna be easy. He’s not gonna stop. He’s incredibly gifted and aggressive and he’s gonna put you in compromising positions.”
Goodwill suggests Antetokounmpo might benefit from playing for an elite coach like Spoelstra, just as LeBron James did at a similar stage of his career. James was already a dominant player when he came to Miami 10 years ago, but Spoelstra was able to challenge him to improve and led him to his first two NBA titles.
Antetokounmpo is the cornerstone of what Milwaukee been building for several years, and the decision on his next contract will determine the future of the franchise. The whispers about his departure will only get louder if the Bucks don’t find a way to get past the Heat.