On Tuesday night, the reigning NBA MVP (and soon to be back-to-back MVP) watched as the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat, the No. 5 seed. It was another disappointing season for the top-seeded Bucks, who were favorites to win it all for over a year before collapsing in the second round. Giannis Antetokounmpo had injured his ankle in Game 4 and was forced to sit out with the season on the line. The Heat took care of business and sent the Bucks packing.
So now that Milwaukee is on the way home, the immediate question that popped into everyone’s head was simple: What does this mean for Giannis’ future? Will he stay with the Bucks and sign a super max contract over the offseason? Or will he force his way out of town via trade before hitting free agency after the 2020-21 season? Both are very valid having watched the Bucks exit the postseason before the NBA Finals in back-to-back years. Faced with these questions from reporters, Giannis shot down any chance he will force a trade.
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports after the loss.
“Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”
But how much better can the Bucks really get? Milwaukee has very little cap flexibility after signing Khris Middleton to a max deal that runs through 2024. Eric Bledsoe has three more years left on his contract. Giannis is making $27.5 million heading into the final year of his current deal, and is set for a MASSIVE pay raise.
So if Antetokounmpo signs a super max, can the Bucks even compete with this roster? The past two seasons it hasn’t looked that way. This was the year Milwaukee had a clear path to the finals and the Bucks squandered the opportunity. It doesn’t even matter what Giannis says. He may not need to force a trade, a trade might be the Bucks’ best option. If you’re Giannis, there’s no way you don’t enter free agency after next season. It will be like The Decision by LeBron James but perhaps even more monumental.
The Greek Freak would have his pick of pretty much any team. He can instantly join anywhere and make said team a contender. He can line up friends to play with, get courted, woo’d, the whole nine yards. Sure, loyalty is one thing. Making a ton of money on a championship caliber team in a major market is a whole nother animal. Right now, I’ll take Giannis’ word for it. He’s not going anywhere. Because of course this type of thing is said all the time in the NBA, just so the superstar can bolt for a better situation.