In the aftermath of a disappointing 4-1 series loss to the Miami Heat, reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo addressed the media and indicated a desire to “build a culture” with the Milwaukee Bucks that can “compete every single year” for championships. Along the way, Antetokounmpo also noted that the Bucks put his health ahead of Game 5 against Miami and, all told, it was seemingly a positive moment for Milwaukee in their goal to keep Antetokounmpo on board for the long term.
Shortly thereafter, though, Antetokounmpo spoke to Chris Haynes of Yahoo and provided even more optimism for Bucks-centric observers. Amid buzz that Antetokounmpo could turn down a super-max contract extension this offseason, prompting potential trade possibilities, the 25-year-old superstar firmly denied any notion of a trade request.
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Haynes. “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.”
This is music to the ears of the Bucks, even while acknowledging that Milwaukee has myriad other concerns this offseason. To put it plainly, Antetokounmpo is the centerpiece of everything the Bucks have done in the recent past and, if he is willing to jump in with both feet, the prospects of more title pursuits are infinitely easier to envision.
“If winning a championship was easy, everyone would have one,” Antetokounmpo continued. “We lost. Everyone saw that we lost. It’s disappointing, but what are we going to do? We’re going to keep working. I’ve got confidence in my teammates.”
The five-game loss to the Heat was brutal, especially when viewed through the prism of the No. 1 overall seed and outsized expectations. As such, the Bucks may be looking for more help from Antetokounmpo, with Marc Stein of the New York Times floating that the Bucks could conceivably target Chris Paul amid a potential rebuild in Oklahoma City.
There are rival teams that believe Milwaukee will explore trading for Chris Paul — complicated as that would be financially — if Oklahoma City indeed makes CP3 available via trade. One more thing to track as the Bucks enter perhaps the most crucial offseason in team history …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 9, 2020
If Antetokounmpo’s comments hold, the Bucks can cross at least one possibility off the list for the next few months. There is still work to do, though, and the next step is presenting Antetokounmpo with a massive contract extension with fingers crossed that he will agree to sign it.