Giannis Antetokounmpo has put himself firmly near the top of the NBA rumor mill for the foreseeable future after the two-time MVP expressed hesitancy about signing a contract extension to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks without a title commitment from them.
“The Lakers and the Knicks are already being mentioned as franchises presumed to interest Antetokounmpo down the road if he does decide to move on from Milwaukee, which just made a slew of moves (re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez and replacing Mike Budenholzer as coach with Adrian Griffin) to try to appease its face of the franchise,” wrote NBA insider Marc Stein.
“You can be certain, if nothing else, that The Giannis Watch is back on and, like it or not, will thrust his future back to the forefront of the NBA discourse after just three seasons of relative quiet that must have elapsed awfully quickly for Bucks fans.”
With the 28-year-old about to become eligible for an extension next month, Antetokounmpo told the New York Times that he is focused on winning another championship above all else and wants to make sure the Bucks share that desire before considering a longer stay in Milwaukee.
This is notable in part because Antetokounmpo leaving Milwaukee would end any dreams he may have about spending his entire NBA career with one team.
The league MVP in 2019 and 2020, Antetokounmpo currently has a contract that runs through the 2024-25 season with a player option for the 2025-26 campaign. He becomes eligible for a three-year, $173 million extension on Sept. 22.
Milwaukee won the 2021 NBA title with Antetokounmpo named Finals MVP, and many key players from that team remain, including Middleton, Lopez and Jrue Holiday. The Bucks have changed their head coach, with Griffin about to begin his first season in place of the championship-winning Budenholzer.
Antetokounmpo has played 10 seasons with the Bucks since debuting in the 2013-14 NBA season. Milwaukee’s 2021 championship stands as its only appearance in the Finals with the seven-time All-Star, and the Bucks lost in the first round to the Miami Heat last season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat may also have an interest in Antetokounmpo if he becomes available, but their situation may be complicated by their ongoing pursuit of Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard made a trade request early last month, but the Heat have been unable to reach a deal with the reluctant Trail Blazers, and whatever pieces Miami potentially uses to finally complete that transaction may be needed to land Antetokounmpo instead, specifically Wisconsin native Tyler Herro.
The Lakers recently handed out a massive extension to Anthony Davis, and LeBron James’ contract situation could be in flux sooner rather than later with a player option after this season, so it is uncertain how they could fit Antetokounmpo into their finances. But that definitely won’t stop the speculation about another great NBA player potentially moving to Los Angeles if given the chance.