Giannis Antetokounmpo may have just disappointed the rest of the NBA teams looking for a franchise-changing superstar.
The 25-year-old Antetokounmpo, who is slated to be a free agent after the 2020-21 season, emphatically said after the Bucks’ season-ending 103-94 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday that he is planning to remain with the Bucks for the long-term.
The 6-foot-11 forward, who didn’t play because of a sprained ankle he suffered in Game 3, said he’s not going to hold the league hostage regarding his future.
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports. “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.”
Though Antetokounmpo is disappointed the Bucks’ season is over, the Milwaukee star said he is confident the team can win a championship in the future.
“If winning a championship was easy, everyone would have one,” Antetokounmpo told the website. “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 Bucks can make a move to lock up Antetokounmpo when free agency begins, possibly as early as October.
According to the Associated Press, such a deal would kick in for the 2021-22 season, and the math before the pandemic hit said it would have been worth around $247 million. If the salary cap going forward takes a hit because of the amount of revenue the league and its teams lost this season, it likely would hurt Antetokounmpo’s next deal.
But even if that’s the case, he still will be set for life.
Antetokounmpo, who is under contract for $27.5 million next season, is averaging 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists and is widely expected to win the MVP award for a second consecutive season.
Antetokounmpo said he wanted to play, but respected the fact that the Bucks had his best long-term interests at heart.
“At the end of the day, the organization put my health over Game 5,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s big.’’