Time is up for Milwaukee.
As the moments ticked down in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday, it felt like more than just the end of the series for the Bucks, it felt like the end of an era.
Yahoo Sports reported forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is interested in changing locations to either Miami or Toronto.
If these reports are true, they illuminate what every basketball fan has seen during these playoffs.
Antetokounmpo should take his talents out of Milwaukee.
Whether that move comes in free agency in 2021 or he forces a trade sooner, it’s clear that the organization has not shown the ability to put pieces around the likely two-time MVP.
Milwaukee will likely lose to the Heat after falling down 0-3 in the series, a hole no team has ever dug themselves out of in the history of the NBA. Miami has highlighted issues the Bucks have had for the last few years. Antetokounmpo is a dominant player who can collapse the defense and generate open looks for his teammates during the regular season.
Usually, those looks fall when defenses are not as locked in during the regular season and get bogged down by the monotony of lengthy season.
However, when the playoffs begin and teams are able to scout and study opponents, the ability to get those same open shots are diminished. In the playoffs, the importance of having multiple players who can be legitimate threats to make plays is crucial.
Sticking stationary shooters around Antetokounmpo has proven to not get the job done. They need players who are actual threats to break down defenses once teams help off Antetokounmpo’s drive.
Khris Middleton has reached All-Star levels in the regular season but he’s come up short in the playoffs. Eric Bledsoe has shown that his defense doesn’t outweigh his liabilities on the offensive end. And while Brook Lopez has expanded his game beyond the arc now, he has become far too one-dimensional for the Bucks to be successful.
Currently, the Bucks are above the salary cap and have limited ability to make any noteworthy free-agent moves in 2020 to get another legitimate scorer and playmaker to pair with Antetokounmpo.
The only option that the Bucks truly have to get a significant difference-maker will come via trade, but anyone worthwhile would be completely unrealistic to get.
Utah isn’t giving up Donovan Mitchell, Denver isn’t giving up Jamal Murray and Phoenix isn’t parting with Devin Booker. All these guys either have accepted long-term deals with their teams or will do so in the near future.
While Antetokounmpo has been working on expanding his game, he’ll likely never be a knockdown shooter, so he needs another cutthroat superstar player with a game that is versatile enough to complement his physical dominance.
The Bucks haven’t been able to get that player for him and he’s starting to realize they may never be able to. So it’s time to start taking matters into his own hands.
Anthony Davis forced his way out of New Orleans and now has a legit chance to win a title in L.A., and LeBron left his deplorable situation in Cleveland and got rings.
Not only has changing organizations been done before, oftentimes it is necessary for players to achieve their true potential.
If Antetokounmpo wants to reach new heights as one of the most dominant players to ever play in this league, then he’ll likely have to continue his journey outside of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee had their chance, but at some point chances always run out.