And maybe it’s just a little bit worse because as Mar…

And maybe it’s just a little bit worse because as Marc Spears, the respected insider from ESPN’s The Undefeated, said on Sportsnet, “if he was going to go anywhere, it was going to be Toronto,” citing Antetokounmpo’s relationship with Masai Ujiri and a growing appreciation for his Nigerian heritage after he grew up as an illegal immigrant in Greece.

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If Antetokounmpo had given some assurance that he was likely to re-sign in Milwaukee as a free agent, perhaps indicating that he’d be back so long as their season didn’t end before, say, the conference finals, then sources say Bucks officials likely would have taken their chances and moved ahead with the partnership. But if there were no assurances given, with Antetokounmpo simply stating that he planned on being a free agent and that he’d figure out his future when that time arrived, it’s clear the Bucks would have seriously considered whether they needed to take trade calls on him.
But by that important sit-down, Antetokounmpo had been back for a week and there was no definitive word on his plans. He had watched the Bucks' retooling effort with great interest from afar, sources said, but he hadn't in earnest dug into the granular details of each option available to him until he returned to the U.S. While the rest of the NBA waited in anticipation -- and Milwaukee in sheer anxiety -- Antetokounmpo was just beginning the process of educating himself on the financial and career implications of his options: a supermax now, a shorter extension with a player option or going into the season without committing and hitting free agency in 2021.
Now, Lasry and Edens finally had an opportunity to make their best case. They emphasized the Bucks' material and emotional investment into building a champion in Milwaukee, sources said. They reminded Antetokounmpo that they are every bit as competitive and committed to winning as their superstar, pointing to the aggressive pursuit of Jrue Holiday, and the luxury tax payments the franchise was prepared to incur if Antetokounmpo accepted the extension offer.
Nobody left the meeting sure what exactly would happen. There would be jittery days that followed, which was only natural considering the pressure-packed weeks that preceded the meeting: a blockbuster trade, a botched deal for a player Antetokounmpo wanted, an awkward fallout that included an investigation, speculation and self-examination. It was hardly an artful dance that got them to Tuesday, when Antetokounmpo made the commitment heard around the basketball world, but it was a wild ride.
It was an informal get-together that included general manager Jon Horst and Alex Saratsis, Antetokounmpo's longtime agent. Both sides knew some important issues needed to be addressed going into a crucial offseason, sources said. Following multiple years of playoff flameouts as a top seed, aligning the team's goals with Antetokounmpo's was imperative. The Bucks needed to do everything to ensure his commitment to Milwaukee, and they needed to do it quickly.
They talked about players on other teams -- ones that Antetokounmpo thought would be right to acquire. And they discussed the other things, such as how Antetokounmpo had begun feeling the early stages of recruiting from other players in the league. At one point, sources said, Antetokounmpo even showed the Bucks' management text messages from stars on rival teams who appeared to be beginning their pitch.
Executives for teams in smaller markets and others that aren’t traditional free agency destinations applauded Antetokounmpo’s decision. “It’s a huge deal for Milwaukee to keep a star in a small market,” one Western Conferenceexecutive told HoopsHype. “It’s nice to see kids still to this day stay loyal to their team as all the stars leave to line up with other stars, which puts an imbalance in our league. It’s huge for the league and Milwaukee.”
Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is also the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, won it big on Tuesday after they secured Giannis Antetokounmpo with a supermax extension. In an interview with the Pat McAfee Show soon after the deal was announced, Rodgers clearly looked like a happy man. He believes the Bucks’ offseason moves helped convince Antetokounmpo to sign the five-year, $228 million deal, the most lucrative contract in NBA history. “It’s a big signing for us. We’re pretty ecstatic, I guess he is too, I would assume. This is conjecture, but I know he was interested in what the roster turnover was going to be. Made some moves in the off-season, brought in some players. I guess he is happy with them so far.”
“One day, he’s in 1,000 percent. The next day, he’s asking more questions.” That, according to one source with knowledge, describes the ebbs and flows that led to Giannis Antetokounmpo deciding on Tuesday to sign a five-year, $228.2 million supermax contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks with an opt-out clause in 2025 and 15 percent trade kicker, sources say. The process leading to the decision, according to sources who spoke to The Athletic, consisted of an array of meetings, a hilarious birthday ploy by his teammates to get him to put “pen” to paper, conversations about the Bucks’ commitment to roster building after an offseason in which they landed Holiday and tons of trust by the two-time league MVP in his agent, Alex Saratsis.
It was not a straight-forward decision and came with days upon days of deliberating for Antetokounmpo and his inner circle. Sources say he mulled on the decision throughout the past couple of weeks. The Bucks were able to seal the deal, in part, with a late-in-the-process, crucial sit-down when franchise co-owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens flew to Chicago on Dec. 12 for a midday meeting with Saratsis.
While that was a critical meeting in the process, it was not the only one that took place to get the deal done. After spending most of his limited offseason in Greece, Antetokounmpo flew back to Milwaukee on Nov. 29. A few days after landing stateside, the superstar forward met with Saratsis to discuss the supermax extension and figure out how they wanted to proceed. On Dec. 5, Lasry and Edens joined Antetokounmpo and Saratsis at the superstar’s River Hills home for their first in-person discussion about the long-term contract. That is when the Bucks formally presented Antetokounmpo with the five-year, $228.2 million contract, sources said.
But when it came to his final decision on how he would see the Milwaukee situation, there was this tricky dilemma too: One of the most effective ways of cutting through that market disadvantage — the incumbent star player recruiting fellow stars to come join him — went against Antetokounmpo’s nature. For most of his seven NBA seasons, Antetokounmpo had made it clear that he had no interest in being buddy-buddy with stars around the league. He declined invitations to play with the best of the best during the offseason, most notably a summer workout in 2018 that included three MVPs (LeBron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden). Why join them when you’re trying to beat them?
Adrian Wojnarowski: As @Giannis Antetokounmpo tweeted, he is signing his extension with the Bucks. His agent, Alex Saratsis, tells ESPN it will be for the full five-year, $228M super max, including an opt-out after the fourth year.
Shams Charania: Breaking: Giannis Antetokounmpo says he is signing a contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The two-time MVP will sign a five-year, $228.2 million supermax extension with the franchise, the largest deal in NBA history, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
"The challenge for the Bucks is just selling him on winning," said Wojnarowski. "I know this about Giannis: his decision is not about wanting to be in a big market and have all the trimmings that come with Los Angeles or New York or wherever it is. I don't think that's part of his decision making. I think at his core he's immensely loyal. I believe he loves the people in Milwaukee. Loves that community. He loves the organization. But he wants to win and that's what he's weighing."
Moving forward is exactly what the Bucks would like to do, but the organization is at a standstill until Antetokounmpo decides his future. There is nothing more essential to the health and vitality of the whole organization than Antetokounmpo. “I think about everything,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think about Milwaukee. Think about my teammates. Think about my family. Think about what is the best decision for me. But that’s pretty much it. After that, I realize I’ve gotten so far because I focus on how I can improve every single day. I love the city of Milwaukee. I love the organization. I love my family to death. I love winning.
On Sunday, Antetokounmpo celebrated his 26th birthday as the Bucks began group workouts, with teammates surprising him with pens -- indirectly suggesting the decision they want him to reach. "At first, I didn't get it. Khris [Middleton] came in and gave me a pen, and I was like, 'Whoa, what is this?' I was looking at it and thinking about it, and then I realized that he wanted me to sign the contract," said Antetokounmpo, who is coming off a season in which he joined Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. "And it was just like, 'OK.' I laughed the first time, I laughed the second time, the third time, and then I got, like, 20 pens. So then it got a little bit old. I've got 20 pens in my locker room."
Sources have long told NBC Sports they expect him to re-sign (now or next summer) and stay in Milwaukee — and a recent poll of agents found the same thing — but after the Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade fell apart, are the Bucks losing confidence it will happen before the season starts? Maybe, ESPN’s plugged-in Zach Lowe said on “The Jump” (hat tip Bleacher Report). The Bucks have “gone kind of silent” on the matter after their failed attempt to acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic. “I don’t know what that means… But I know that that optimism, I just haven’t been hearing that.”
Eric Woodyard: Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer says it’s not uncomfortable in training camp with Giannis’ decision looming. He says Giannis wants to be pushed harder. “It really hasn’t changed anything, it’s probably just enhanced it,” he said.
Kane Pitman: Pat Connaughton on Giannis: "I would love to play with him for the rest of my career let alone the next 3-4-5 years, whatever the extension might be. It's something that he knows we have his back, he knows we would love to have him for an extended period of time"
The Milwaukee Bucks concluded their first team practice Sunday by singing happy birthday to back-to-back reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo. Teammates Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton thought of the perfect gift for the 26-year-old Antetokounmpo as he mulls over his decision on whether to sign a supermax extension to stay in Milwaukee for the long term.
But if they come up empty-handed, they would apparently pivot to trying to acquire Wizards' star, Bradley Beal. "If Giannis Antetokounmpo signs a max extension with the Bucks, Washington guard Bradley Beal becomes the No. 1 Heat target if or when he becomes available," according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. "The Heat’s interest remains very high, according to a source with direct knowledge."
Malika Andrews on the Bucks: They signed Jrue holiday. That was probably an upgrade and I've been told by people close to Giannis that that was a good signal that they were able to get a guy like that who is a little bit better shooter than Eric Bledsoe.
A week later, Bogdanovic plays for the Atlanta Hawks, not the Bucks. And there has since been a categorical step back in the Bucks' confidence in getting a long-term commitment from their superstar, even if Antetokounmpo ultimately accepts the franchise's offer of a five-year, $228 million supermax extension.
With training camp approaching, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo still has not decided on his supermax extension offer. As of now, that contract is worth a projected $228.2 million, at a minimum, over five years. The deal would keep Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee through 2026. “That’s a lot of money to leave on the table!” one general manager told HoopsHype.
The Miami Heat are the best-positioned team salary cap-wise to sign Antetokounmpo. They did a good job this offseason keeping themselves in contention while also remaining flexible for 2021. “They’re a Top 3 best cap management team in the league,” one former executive said.
Adebayo said he hasn’t spoken to Antetokounmpo. However, some, including one agent with several max players, speculates there was some form of communication between either the players or their representation. “For sure, he let him know,” the agent surmised. “I’m sure Giannis is going to get his extension.”
For two weeks before it appeared that the Bucks had a deal to bring in Bogdanovic alongside Holiday, there had been promising rumblings in league circles that Antetokounmpo was prepared to sign the extension. A belief was building that Antetokounmpo was likely to opt for immediate financial security by signing before the season and quietly reserving the right to try to force a trade later if he was unhappy, as George did one season after re-signing in Oklahoma City.
The Heat, however, plan to move forward, at least at the moment, with intentions of maximizing 2021-22 salary cap space. Without an offer, or without accepting such an offer, Adebayo would become a restricted free agent in the 2021 offseason. The intrigue with Adebayo is that he shares the same agent as Antetokounmpo, who also is eligible for a max-tier extension over the next month.
Anthony Davis is in a waiting pattern on his contract terms with the Los Angeles Lakers, which could be connected to the supermax decision Giannis Antetokounmpo is weighing with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have been "operating under the belief" that Antetokounmpo will sign a supermax extension, but nothing has been agreed upon. "I think there are two star players waiting to sign to see what Giannis does," said Brian Windhorst on ESPN Radio. "That's Anthony Davis. He's coming back to the Lakers, but he may change the alteration of his contract, the way it's structured, to give the Lakers a window, if not for Giannis but for somebody in a one-plus-one. Because that's what LeBron is now on.
Per a league source, the Bucks have remained in constant contact with Antetokounmpo while he has trained in Greece. Yet even with that, the Bucks are now forced to continue exploring other options while waiting to see how he handles the supermax extension that’s coming his way on Friday night.
The Miami Heat previously showed interest in the Italian forward at the trade deadline. If Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee, some around the league expect Miami to extend Bam Adebayo, try to bring back Goran Dragic, and upgrade at forward. That could open the door for Gallinari to land with Miami as a free agent on a multi-year deal.
Sam Amick, staff writer: On its face, one would think that Bogdanovic would jump at the chance to leave Sacramento and join Antetokounmpo's title-contending Bucks. But assuming isn't part of the trade-making process, and the problem now is that it's clear Bogdanovic never gave the go-ahead to be included in the framework of this deal that first leaked via ESPN on Monday. The Bucks could still convince Bogdanovic when free agency formally begins on Friday, but there was clearly a communication breakdown here. The timing is less than ideal for the Bucks, who are hoping that Giannis signs his five-year supermax deal soon.
Something else worth noting: in the wake of the Bucks' trade for Jrue Holiday, execs from two teams said that it was highly unlikely Milwaukee would make that trade without knowing Giannis Antetokounmpo was going to sign an extension. “You don’t give up what they gave up without a commitment,” the exec speculated. If Antetokounmpo is indeed staying in Milwaukee, you can cross him off of the list of free agents that New York could pursue next summer.
Chris Broussard: I’m told Giannis loves Bogdanovic’s game. Will it be enough to get Giannis to sign on the dotted line?
By swinging deals for Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic during the franchise’s seminal Giannis Antetokounmpo moment, Horst made it clear that there’s still plenty of synergy between their franchise centerpiece and the Bucks power brokers who so desperately want to keep him. Even without these additions, sources say the Bucks’ confidence was high that Antetokounmpo would sign the five-year supermax extension that is coming his way when free agency begins on Friday (with a Dec. 21 deadline). This, not surprisingly, only bolsters that internal belief.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will be offered the supermax extension by the Milwaukee Bucks at the start of free agency, which could be the most impactful NBA storyline both this offseason and for 2021. "I wonder how Giannis feels as he's looking at this right now, you know, what he's thinking about," said Brian Windhorst in a podcast recorded before the Holiday trade. "Because he has about a month to decide on his supermax. I think he's going to decide a lot of sooner. And I think there's a lot of warmth in Milwaukee right now. I'll just leave it at that."
While there, he happened to give an exclusive interview to Swedish outlet Aftonbladet, a daily newspaper based in Stockholm. Of course, he was asked about his future with the Milwaukee Bucks, and had this to say (hat tip to Swedish journalist Alexander Nilsson): Giannis: "There are a lot of rumors. Everyone has opinions. But at the end of the day, I will do what is best for my family. I do not see why I could not be in Milwaukee for several years. As long as Milwaukee and I are on the same page when it comes to being one of the best teams in the league and winning championships, that's fine. When it changes, it will not be good. It's easy, I want to be a winner. I do not care about the money. My family is fine and I can take care of my children and grandchildren so that's not the most important thing right now, it's winning. As long as we can win and create a winning culture, it will be good."
Aftonbladet: So your plan is to stay in Milwaukee next year and then maybe sign an extension? Giannis: "I do not know what the plan is. It depends on what decisions they make. If they make the right decision, I'll be there for many years. If they do not, we'll see. The NBA is business and we take it day by day. Hopefully we can succeed together."
Bobby Marks: Salary cap in 2021/22 Low of $112.4M and high of $120M Super max extension of Giannis Antetokounmpo will range from $228M to $244M
Frank Madden: For some context, if cap goes up only 2% for 21/22 then it would put a Giannis supermax value at around $226m/5 years (same if he signs this offseason or next). Other teams could offer a projected $144/4 years if he hit FA in ‘21. A year ago the projections were $254m/$161m.
NBA Central: Brian Windhorst says to keep an eye on Bam Adebayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo this off season "It’s interesting to point out that Bam and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the same agent. . . If neither of them sign extensions this off season, watch out for the Miami Heat." (🎥 ESPN)
Brian Windorst on Giannis Antetokounmpo: I think that there's just no way thinking completely objectively that his agent could recommend to him to sign the extension this this offseason. I've been saying that for months and I definitely have upset people in Milwaukee for saying that. I'm talking to people within the organization because they don't think it's fair to the way that they run their team. But I mean, that's just the reality.
"As long as everybody's on the same page and as long as everybody's fighting for the same thing, fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion," he said, "I don't see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years."
Eric Woodyard: Giannis says he left the meeting “encouraged” with Bucks owners. Says they’re on “the same page” right now. Wouldn’t get into details though. He’s currently in Greece with family.
Because Giannis Antetokounmpo has won MVP honors in 2020, he is now super max eligible to sign a contract with Milwaukee in the 2022 offseason. If Antetokounmpo bypasses an extension this offseason and signs a 1+1 contract (for 30% of the cap in Milwaukee) in 2021 with the Bucks, he would be eligible to sign a five-year super max contract (35% of the cap) with Milwaukee in 2022.
On Saturday, Lasry joined Antetokounmpo at the star’s home in River Hills, a suburb 15 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee. Lasry’s son and Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry participated in the conversation, as did Antetokounmpo’s older brother Thanasis and their agent Alex Saratsis, league sources tell The Athletic. Yahoo! Sports first reported that the meeting took place.
For three hours, they discussed a wide range of topics: the state of the franchise, the ins and outs of this past season and the way it all went wrong at the end, the bubble experience, offseason priorities, the looming question of when the NBA’s next season might start and whether or not there will be fans on hand when the games begin. Since league rules prohibit the Bucks from engaging in any sort of contract talks with Antetokounmpo just yet — team officials even have to sign a document swearing they followed the rules — no specifics about his supermax extension were discussed.
The Bucks have every reason to be concerned here, if only because the outcome of this season inevitably means Antetokounmpo will have to reconcile all of his doubts. But in terms of the reading of the proverbial room, a source with knowledge of the Bucks’ perspective said they’ve had confidence for quite some time now that Antetokounmpo would sign the supermax.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo met with ownership Saturday afternoon to discuss the future of the franchise, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Last season’s MVP and this year’s Defensive Player of the Year met privately with co-owner Marc Lasry, sources said. The meeting came on the same day the 6-foot-11 star unfollowed hundreds on Twitter and Instagram, including the Bucks team account and his teammates’ accounts.
Gozlan: “From Giannis’ perspective, if he doesn’t take the supermax, two things: One, if he’s really interested in signing a supermax and wants the long-term security, wants the money, I think he would want it, but what could be holding him back could be what the salary cap is going to be. We still haven’t gotten any guidance from the NBA. The recent cap projection was $115 million. The following year was $125 million. Now, it could end up being the same salary cap figure for the next two years. If it were to be much lower and closer to what it is now, even less, then I would imagine Giannis would want to hold back on signing the supermax because that’s a lot less money to lock down versus what he was expected to get earlier. Under the $125 million salary cap, he was going to get around $250 million over five years. If it’s going to stick closer to the current $109 million salary cap or lower, he’s looking at closer to $210 or $220 million. That’s a big difference right there.”
Scotto: “If I’m Milwaukee, purely from a basketball standpoint in trying to win a championship, whatever he says (about an extension), he’s not going anywhere in my opinion, because Milwaukee’s never been a traditional free agency destination. It’s a cold-weather city, and it’s not a location that’s really been desired by a bunch of free agents in the past. If you try to trade him, you’re not going to get equal value back for the reigning MVP in a trade. For me, it’s never going to get better for the Bucks. I think you’ve got to push all the chips into the center of the table and really go for it.”
Milwaukee will offer Antetokounmpo the five-year super-maximum as soon as free agency begins this offseason, sources said. Should the salary cap remain at the projected $115 million, the super max would be worth five years and $233.45 million. For a salary cap of $109 million — the 2019 offseason figure — the deal would be worth five years and $221.27 million.
If he doesn’t sign an extension, Milwaukee must decide if it’s willing to go all-in and sacrifice young players and draft picks to improve the supporting cast in the short term or trade him before potentially losing him for nothing. “I’d want him to be honest,” an Eastern Conference general manager told HoopsHype when asked what he would do if Antetokounmpo didn’t sign an extension. “Are you not taking the extension because you don’t want to be here? Are you keeping your options open? I’d keep him because you have as good a chance to win next year as anyone. That’s why we all are in this thing. If things are not going your way by the trade deadline, then it’s a different story.”
Here's the financial breakdown of the offer the Bucks can make this offseason versus the offers that other teams can make next season (2021), based on the initial cap projection of $109.1 million. Any team other than the Bucks would be limited to offering Antetokounmpo a four-year deal for a smaller percentage of the cap. 2021-22: $38.2M (Milwaukee) vs. $32.7M (new team) 2022-23: $41.3M (Milwaukee) vs. $34.4M (new team) 2023-24: $44.3M (Milwaukee) vs. $36.0M (new team) 2024-25: $47.4M (Milwaukee) vs. $37.7M (new team) 2025-26: $50.4M (Milwaukee) Total: $221.5M (Milwaukee) vs. $140.8M (new team)
The Bucks are the only team that can offer a starting salary of 35% of the cap for five years. Under a $109.1 million cap, Milwaukee could offer $81 million more in guaranteed money -- though a new team could close some of that gap by re-signing Antetokounmpo to another max deal in 2025-26.
If Antetokounmpo passes on signing the supermax, multiple sources are adamant that the Bucks won't trade him. Milwaukee will have to persuade him to stay -- and quickly.
The Bucks will offer Antetokounmpo a supermax contract when eligible later this year, a deal that could be worth $220 million -- about $80 million more than he could get with another team as a free agent in 2021, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. But Antetokounmpo has made it clear that his priority is winning, and that's something the Bucks haven't been able to ensure.
The season’s potential cancellation will most hurt Milwaukee, which had a league-best 53-12 unit that many experts felt had the momentum to win the championship. Antetokounmpo seems to want to stay in Milwaukee when he becomes a 2021 free agent, but only if the Bucks stand as a title contender. Sources indicate the pandemic has changed things so drastically, it’s hard to pinpoint Antetokounmpo’s future plans.
But in truth, all of the above should be on the table even if Antetokounmpo signs the extension because the Bucks are in win-now mode. But with an extension, they can make moves with the luxury of knowing they have a six-year window rather than a one-year window. Inevitably, that changes things. Finally, there is the thought that if he doesn’t sign the extension the Bucks should trade him. I wouldn’t do this unless they have very clear smoke signals that he plans to sign elsewhere. Again, the Bucks aren’t getting access to another talent like this for a long time in all likelihood. And any trade involving Antetekounmpo is impossible to win.
In this case, both sides would be strongly motivated to figure out a reasonable cap number because underpaying the players relative to the BRI generated in that 2021-22 season would create a shortfall to the players and a cap spike in 2022. We already know the value of the national TV contract and will know all the local TV deals by then too, so expect a fair and substantial number. That is good for Antetokounmpo but also likely for the Bucks because a higher 2021-22 cap means a larger difference between what they can offer and what everyone else can bid. After all, Milwaukee can pay him 35 percent of the cap for five years with 8 percent raises while every other team can only offer 30 percent of the cap for four years with 5 percent raises.
Storyline: Giannis Antetokounmpo Extension
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