Central Notes: Giannis, Porter, P. Williams, Pacers

Plenty of options were waiting for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he had reached free agency, but he chose to remain loyal to Milwaukee, which has been his NBA home for the past seven years, writes Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Antetokoumpo provided an early Christmas present to Bucks fans on Tuesday when he agreed to a super-max extension that runs through the 2025/26 season.

“The way that this city has supported me and my family has been amazing since day one, since the day I walked in the Cousins Center gym and Bradley Center, also. It’s been amazing. I was 18, I’m 26 right now. All I know is Milwaukee,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I came here, all I knew is that this is a city that loves basketball, it’s a city that … We have more things to do now, but when I came here we had a lot of things to do so I could just focus on basketball and it’s a place that I want to be.”

While the Bucks had a huge advantage in the money they could offer Antetokounmpo, the two-time MVP had to be convinced that he could win a championship in Milwaukee. The front office was aggressive over the offseason, trading for Jrue Holiday and signing D.J. AugustinBobby PortisBryn Forbes, and Torrey Craig.

“I think we can get better. I believe we can be better. We’ve got better,” Antetokounmpo said. “We have a great team. We have a great culture. I know that I’m working toward that goal. The front office is working toward that goal, so I’m good. I’m happy. I think everybody’s on the same page.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers swingman Kevin Porter Jr. didn’t travel with the team to New York, which means he won’t play at all during the preseason, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs have chosen to address Porter’s legal issues internally, Fedor adds, and are being vague in their public statements. Porter didn’t practice with the team until December 10 and may not be ready for the season opener next week.
  • The Bulls gave first-round pick Patrick Williams a start in their third preseason game, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The decision was based partly on the team’s shortage of personnel due to injuries and COVID-19 concerns, but coach Billy Donovan also wanted to see how Williams would respond to opportunity. “It’s just more to see, like, OK, what does Patrick look like with that first group,” Donovan said. “Does Otto (Porter Jr.), you know, give us a little bit of a punch off the bench from a scoring standpoint? We’re gonna have to make some sacrifices all the way around as a team in terms of how we need to play, and then also what guys’ roles may be, just because of the uniqueness of what we’re all dealing with at this point in time.”
  • The Pacers appeared to be on track to make another front office addition, possibly a second assistant general manager, but they’ve tabled those plans for now, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.
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