Back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo rolled the dice and decided that he will stay a Milwaukee Buck for the foreseeable future.
It’s a decision that could haunt the superstar for years to come.
On Tuesday the four-time All-Star announced that he has agreed to a five-year $228 million supermax extension. It’s the largest deal in NBA history.
The deal includes a decision for the star to opt-out after the fourth season according to Woj.
Antetokounmpo is taking a chance on an organization that has not proven it can generate significant postseason success. The Bucks have been thwarted from their goals of winning a title every season by teams implementing the same defensive strategy of shrinking the floor and forming a “wall” around Antetokounmpo.
He’s been there for seven full seasons now and has been an All-Star since the 2016-2017 season. How long can he rely on Khris Middleton, who’s prone to disappearing in the playoffs, and a cast of standstill shooters to take him to the promised land?
The Bucks picked up Jrue Holiday in a trade, a considerable step up from Eric Bledsoe and George Hill at the point guard position. But will that be enough to make it out of the East against a Miami team that nearly swept you in the conference semifinals or a Brooklyn team with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Caris LeVert?
And that’s just in the East, let’s not get started on how the Lakers got better this offseason with the acquisitions of Dennis Schröder, Marc Gasol, and Montrezl Harrell.
The loyalty of Antetokounmpo to the city of Milwaukee was likely a huge factor in his decision, and I can’t blame someone for not turning down nearly $230 million in guaranteed money. However, if the superstar wants to become a winner like reports say he does, is staying in Wisconsin the best option?
He wouldn’t be the first dominant player to leave Milwaukee and advance his career. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a prime example of how your career can get significantly better by leaving that Tundra. Abdul-Jabbar even won a ring there and still decided that he wanted to bounce, Antetokounmpo has no excuse.
Signing back with the Bucks long-term probably won’t put him any closer to hoisting that Larry O’Brien Trophy. He has a limited window of time where he will be a dominant player, because his game is predicated on power and explosion.
Dedicating four years of your prime to an organization that can’t even get Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings of all places is not the most calculated move on the chessboard.
Antetokounmpo could have entered free agency next season with a plethora of options to choose from. The Heat could have had potential cap space for him next season and were reported to be interested in grabbing the superstar. The Mavericks could have made something shake in Dallas and paired him along with Luka Doncic, and the Warriors always seem to work magic in their front office. The worst-case scenario for Antetokounmpo would have been to just re-sign with the Bucks after this season if he didn’t like his options in free agency.
Stars like Kawhi Leonard and Victor Oladipo are also free agents in 2021, and the two-time MVP could have even tried to team up with them someplace. Yet, the young star didn’t even give himself the chance to see if there were greener pastures on the horizon.
Antetokounmpo put his trust in the Bucks organization to help make him a champion without any evidence that they can follow through for him.
His loyalty to this organization and the city of Milwaukee may prove to be the biggest downfall of his illustrious career.