Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo badly wanted to play in Game 5 on Tuesday night despite his right ankle sprain, expressing a willingness to play on one leg. However, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, the Bucks prioritized Antetokounmpo’s health over any potential short-term gain, and the reigning MVP appreciates the decision to protect him.
“We have people in the team sometimes that have a bigger say than you and they have to protect you,” Antetokounmpo said. “They have to protect your health no matter what and it’s good. There’s a lot of cases, previous cases in the past that put the team over the player’s health and I love my organization for that, I appreciate that they protected me.
“… I wanted to play. Everybody – you know I wanted to play, I know I wanted to play, my coach knows I wanted to play, but at the end of the day, our organization put my health over Game 5 and that’s big for me.”
With the Bucks’ season now over, all eyes will be on Antetokounmpo’s future. As we detailed late on Tuesday night, Giannis has already said he won’t ask to be traded, but we still don’t know whether or not he’ll sign a super-max extension when the club offers it this fall.
Passing on that extension would result in all sorts of Giannis-related trade speculation, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. However, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) outlines, it’s possible Antetokounmpo may prefer to wait on finalizing an extension even if he wants to remain with the Bucks. The same deal – a five-year max with the Bucks worth 35% of the cap and beginning in 2021/22 – would be available for Giannis during the 2021 offseason.
For now, teams are projecting no salary cap increase for the next couple years, per Marks. But by the ’21 offseason, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks would have a better idea of the cap outlook going forward. It’s possible at that time that the Defensive Player of the Year would want to sign a shorter-term contract to maintain flexibility and to potentially capitalize on a cap increase down the road by waiting to lock in a longer-term contract.
Here’s more on Giannis and the Bucks:
- Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to a pair of GMs, two team executives, and a scout about the Bucks’ outlook, including Giannis’ future, Mike Budenholzer‘s status, and the rest of the club’s roster. The consensus among Scotto’s sources is that it’s hard to read too much into bubble results and that Milwaukee shouldn’t be in a rush to make major changes. “I think they’re good enough to win,” an Eastern Conference GM said. “We definitely overreact to certain things. They’re a contending championship team. It’s like OKC back in the day. Play it out. If Giannis leaves, he leaves. His brother is on the team, for crying out loud.”
- Another Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Scotto offered the following assessment: “If it were my decision, I think you run it back next year with the same squad. I think over the summer, Giannis will learn to extend past the 3-point line consistently. Then, if things aren’t looking good at the deadline next year, you see what you can get for (Khris) Middleton, (Eric) Bledsoe, (Donte) DiVincenzo.”
- John Hollinger of The Athletic isn’t convinced that Budenholzer’s coaching style is destined to fail in the postseason. Hollinger concedes that the Bucks head coach made some mistakes against Miami, but contends that a bad matchup and some bad luck largely contributed to the club’s early playoff exit.
- Veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, whose contract with the Bucks is expiring, told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that he’ll talk to his family before making a decision on his NBA future. His teammate Marvin Williams announced on Tuesday night that he has decided to retire, but it’s not clear if the 39-year-old Korver will follow suit.