Bucks management had to be encouraged by Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s first public comments after winning his second consecutive MVP on Friday. Appearing from Greece on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” Antetokounmpo speculated about a lengthy future with the franchise (Twitter link).
“As long as everybody’s on the same page and as long as everybody’s fighting for the same thing,” he said, “fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years.”
Antetokounmpo could go a long way toward making that happen by accepting a maximum extension that the Bucks have promised to put on the table this offseason. That new contract would take effect with the 2021/22 season and could be worth more than $250MM over five years, depending on what happens with the salary cap.
If Antetokounmpo turns down the extension and opts for free agency, he’ll become the top player in what could be a loaded market next summer. The Bucks could still offer more years and a higher salary than any of their competitors, but they would prefer to get a long-term deal completed as soon as possible.
Bobby Marks of ESPN offers a preview of what the market for Antetoukoumpo might look like. He notes that Milwaukee has strung together two straight impressive regular seasons and won’t need a full roster overhaul to be in the title race. Marks suggests the Bucks might be interested in Thunder guard Chris Paul, but isn’t sure if a package of Eric Bledsoe, Robin Lopez (if he opts into his current deal), Ersan Ilyasova, D.J. Wilson and draft picks would be enough to get a deal done.
If Antetoukoumpo opts for free agency, Marks has Miami in the “driver’s seat” to land him. The Heat already have two All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, along with a collection of young talent. They can keep their current core together by offering free agent guard Goran Dragic a one-year, $20MM contract this summer, then renouncing his rights to clear room for Antetokounmpo in 2021 and re-signing Dragic with their $4.8MM room exception.
Marks lists the Raptors, Mavericks and Knicks as other serious contenders to add Antetoukoumpo in free agency, along with the Lakers if LeBron James is willing to sacrifice $16.2MM in his 2021/22 salary.