Storyline: Giannis Antetokounmpo Free Agency

53 rumors in this storyline

In truth, as Antetokounmpo shared with The Athletic, the two players took part in a jersey swap afterward (our Steve Berman reported from the Bucks locker room that Antetokounmpo had a signed Curry jersey with a note written inside the zero in his ‘30’). “Steph is a — he’s a fun dude,” he continued when asked how well he knew Curry. “I really don’t know him, know him, but whenever we’ve (played each other) he’s always come up to me, talked to me. It’s fun.”

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It’s all fun fodder for the fans, too. But guess what? For the Warriors or any of the other 28 teams that would love to land “The Greek Freak,” none of it is likely to matter if Giannis and the Bucks stay on this same track. The combination of their winning, his play, and his constant praise of the organization’s functionality means subplots like these don’t need to be taken seriously just yet. That doesn’t mean the Bucks can afford to lose focus. It’s quite the contrary, in fact. Keep pushing toward the playoffs, and competing with the kind of relentless spirit that the 25-year-old seems to always employ and demand.

TMZ: “What was going through your mind when you saw Steph Curry trying to recruit Giannis?” Edens: “I think that they’re just friends. A respect for the game … I don’t think Giannis plays video games (laughing). I don’t know, but … ” TMZ: “Exactly. So he must be trying to recruit him for the Warriors, right?” Edens: “I don’t know. No comment. No comment.” TMZ: “Did you guys talk to Giannis afterwards, like, ‘Hey Giannis, everything still good with us?'” Edens: “I don’t think we need to. He’s loyal.” TMZ: “You’re not worried about losing him to the Warriors when free agency hits?” Edens: “Life is good in Milwaukee right now. They’re winning. I think everyone’s happy.”

Eric Woodyard: Coach Mike Budenholzer on if Giannis’ free agency wears on team: “I don’t know maybe there’s more than I realize but he seems in a great place, the group’s in a great place and we’ll hopefully keep it rolling.” See full comment below.

And…how does he react to such humor? Khris Middleton: He laughs. But I mean, we never talk about that, honestly. We don’t talk about that at all. We’re always focused on practice or gameplan or a game or watching film or something. For the most part, we respect our decision making, realize it’s not always about basketball, that it’s about family situations and what not. But we also, like I said man, we just really focus on basketball. We’re basketball junkies. Since we’ve been here, we’ve always been in the gym. Maybe not on the same (basket), but in the same gym working on two different ends and different parts of our game. I think that’s just our relationship. We’re basketball junkies.

Do you get caught up in that sort of chatter at all? I mean this week, we’ve got New York chatter, we’ve got other scenarios (being discussed)… (ESPN reported that Toronto is preserving its 2021 cap space in order to pursue Antetokounmpo, and league-wide rumblings persist that the Knicks want to convince Raptors president Masai Ujiri to head up their front office, in part, because of their belief that he could lure Antetokounmpo their way in free agency – if he ever gets there.) Marc Lasry: That’s great. Whether it sounds dumb or not, I’m very comfortable with the relationship that we have with everybody on this team. And I think at the end of the day, what players want is stable ownership. They want a culture which is focused on winning. They want a coach who they respect. They want to play in a city that they love. It’s what we all want. Let’s be serious. You just want consistency, and you want to know that what you’re being told is reality. So I think as long as we do what we’re supposed to do, everything is going to be fine.

“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture. So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.” The Athletic’s Joe Vardon followed up by asking Antetokounmpo specifically which words he feels were attributed to him incorrectly. “I’m not going to get into that,” Antetokounmpo said. “As I said, the last – what is it called – quote, paragraph, it’s words that I didn’t use. Underperforming or whether or deciding, all those words. I’ve never used in my life. “As I said, I’m not going to talk about it. There can be stories coming out. I said this, I said that. I said this. But I’m not going to get into it at all.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo told a Harvard University professor that if the Milwaukee Bucks underperform this season, it would make his decision on whether to stick with the team “a lot more difficult.” The unusually pointed language from the team’s superstar came in a spring 2019 interview with Anita Elberse, a Harvard Business School professor who was researching a case study on the Bucks’ turnaround and the challenges a small-market NBA team faces in retaining a superstar-level player.

Antetokounmpo, who has emerged as one of the best players in basketball, likely will be eligible to sign a five-year, $253 million contract extension with the Bucks next summer, or to opt out and potentially become a free agent in 2021. “I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” Elberse and her co-author, master’s student Melcolm Ruffin, quoted Antetokounmpo as saying. “So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Antetokounmpo, 24, is eligible to sign a five-year, $253.75 million super max extension in the summer of 2020 with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, which would be the largest in NBA history. This would apply even if Antetokounmpo fails to earn All-NBA honors this season, but his focus remains on team goals. “I feel like if you have a great team, and our goal is to win a championship and be the last team standing and get better each day, I think it’s disrespectful towards my teammates talking about my free agency and what I’m going through,” Antetokounmpo said. “So, when the time is right, we’re all gonna talk about it. I don’t think the time is right.”
4 months ago via ESPN

The NBA recently fined Bucks general manager Jon Horst $50,000 for violating league rules of discussing Antetokounmpo’s supermax extension during a televised town hall event, so he stayed away from the topic Monday. During media day, however, he showed up in a great mood while touching on a range of topics, notably managing outside expectations, alongside Budenholzer, with the ultimate goal of a title in mind. What others say in the next 10 months surrounding Antetokounmpo is out of his control. “Internal expectations are what matter to us, and we’ve been saying this for over a year now,” Horst said. “We believe it, we live it. We care about getting better everyday. We want to improve on what we did last year.”

Warriors not a concern in Giannis pursuit?

This week, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne mentioned it on the network. But not much of that chatter is coming from Milwaukee. “Keeping Giannis, it’s a focus obviously,” one Bucks front-office source told Heavy.com. “But fighting the Warriors is not a focus. The Warriors are not the concern in the least. They’d have a long way to go to get him to Golden State, they’d have to give away a lot. He has never given any indication that he wants to leave Milwaukee. So a lot of that stuff, it is more chatter than anything.”

The luring of Durant is cited as evidence that the Warriors can make just about anything happen but that was a much different scenario. Golden State had the benefit of a spike in the salary cap in the summer of 2016, which gave them the room to get Durant without giving up core pieces. And, the source mentioned, “What happened with Durant works both ways.” Durant won two championships with the Warriors. But he wasn’t very happy in his time there and wound up leaving for Brooklyn this summer. No doubt Antetokounmpo, who has expressed how happy he is in Milwaukee, has taken note of how things went for Durant when he made the move.

Down the road, more obstacles loom. Antetokounmpo’s contract is up after 2020–21; “We think about it strategically every day,” says Horst. Other franchises can promise brighter glares, glitzier supporting casts. Horst hopes that by building a basketball culture akin to the Spurs’ and the Warriors’—inclusive, personal and “laser-focused on excellence”—the Bucks can re-sign him. (So far, Giannis has said he loves Milwaukee and shows little interest in, as Bud puts it, “all that bulls— and fame.”)

Yet it’s likewise undeniably true that Steph and Giannis are buddies who are both represented by the same agency (Octagon) and share a mutual admiration that has resulted in Curry and Antetokounmpo selecting each other first overall with the No. 1 overall picks as captains in the first two All-Star drafts. I can promise you, furthermore, that the Warriors have internally mused about a run at Giannis — however futile it may prove to be — in the event they can’t convince Kevin Durant to re-sign this summer. Trying to sign the most attractive free agent available is on the first page of the Golden State owner Joe Lacob’s playbook.

But when the Mavericks pulled the trigger and took Antetokounmpo, it didn’t take long for many NBA officials to figure out the Mavs’ rationale. “They’re looking down the road,’’ an NBA executive said a few days after the draft. “They (the Mavs) know Giannis will be a free agent in a couple of years and this was a way to interest him in Dallas.’’ When another NBA executive was queried earlier this season whether he believed the Mavericks drafted Kostas with Giannis in mind, he didn’t hesitate in responding. “Of course, they did,’’ he said succinctly.

In a report earlier this season by Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, he quoted a former GM as saying, “There’s no way in hell that Giannis Antetokounmp is staying in Milwaukee for his second deal. I would bet everything that I own that Giannis leaves Milwaukee.’’ In that same report by Kennedy, two agents also strongly suggested Antetokounmpo will bolt Milwaukee at the end of his contract. An NBA official and an acquaintance of Antetokounmpo both told me in the last six months that they fully expect Antetokounmpo to eventually leave the Bucks and that several teams have already had preliminary internal discussions on how to land the Greek Freak. Both sources felt the Los Angeles Lakers would likely be Antetokoumpo’s likely landing spot.

While rival GMs speculate about Antetokounmpo’s future and the pressure on the Bucks to keep him happy, Horst stays stubbornly fixated on the present. After all, Antetokounmpo is signed through 2021. “The truth is, it really isn’t the biggest thing on our mind,” Horst says. “The biggest thing on our mind is how do we take a step from last year to this year and continue to improve? And if we do all the right things along the way, and we take the appropriate steps … it will take care of itself.”

To the Bucks’ delight, “all” includes a trait that tantalizes team officials as much as his 60 percent shooting from the field so far, or anything else the league’s hottest individual force does with a basketball in his hands: Antetokounmpo unabashedly loves Milwaukee. It’s a city that, despite a string of successful teams in the 1980s and a squad that fell one win short of the N.B.A. finals in 2001, has never fully shed its “unfashionable” label, which was affixed when the best player in Bucks history — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — forced a trade to the perennially glamorous Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.

Visitors to Milwaukee, however, quickly discover that it’s no exaggeration to describe Antetokounmpo’s future as the least of the Bucks’ concerns in their bid to become a credible contender for the first time in nearly two decades. It also doesn’t hurt that, by virtue of his speedy ascension to All-N.B.A. status and contention for other top individual honors, Antetokounmpo is on a course to be eligible for a so-called “supermax” contract extension from the Bucks via the league’s new Designated Player Exception during the 2020 off-season, which would put him in line for a new deal well in excess of $200 million.

Wojnarowski: It just shows how hard it is at that mid-size market. There are plenty of small-market owners and mid-size GMs who said, “We didn’t go far enough. I can’t keep guys.” Milwaukee is going to go through this with the Greek Freak. That day is coming, right?, where he’s going to look and say, “Where is this organization? What are they doing here?” You don’t think Giannis has been watching what went on there for the last several months, of what they allowed to go on with the front office? He’s watching it, and the clock has started. Everybody in the league is trying to figure out how they’re going to get him out of there. That has started.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: “Duncan and Kobe my role models. I see guys like Tim Duncan, Kobe, who’ve stayed in the same city and the same team for decades. I don’t like changes in my life. I believe that Milwaukee, as an organization but also as a city in general, can make you a better person as well as a better player. There’s not much to do there other than think about basketball and that’s what I need. I might go to the movies, out for a meal and that’s all. I always end up back in the arena again, where I like and love being. The closest place to my house is our coaching center. A two-minute drive. The best!”

Antetokounmpo will earn $3 million next season in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, but it’s no secret that he’ll be in line for a massive raise in the 17/18 season. The Bucks can offer him an extension of up to five years starting in July, and based on this week’s revised 17/18 cap projection of $107 million, Giannis could earn a first year max salary of up to $25 million. With max raises of 7.5% of the first year salary, a five-year deal from the Bucks could be worth approximately $144 million, thus locking in the Bucks’ young star as early as July. Otherwise Giannis would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2017, where the Bucks would have matching rights and other teams could offer up to four years, 4.5% raises and a total package of around $107 million.
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January 21, 2020 | 8:11 am UTC Update
Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown thought Boston wouldn’t budge from its original $80 million extension offer before the front office substantially sweetened the pot, he told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod (hat tip to Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston). Brown eventually signed a four-year, $115 million rookie-scale extension, which included $12 million in incentives. “To be honest, I came with the mindset I didn’t think that anything was going to get done,” Brown told Wojnarowski. “I wasn’t sure that anything was going to get done. The first offer was four years, $80 million. I didn’t think they were going to budge from that. So, I came with the mindset, I told (agent Jason) Glushon that, ‘Let’s see what can happen, you know?’ For me, I didn’t think Jason was going to be able to get anything done. I thought they were going to stay at ($80 million) and that was going to be it.”
Without an extension, Brown would have entered restricted free agency this summer. He was fully prepared to do that until the offer grew. “I was hell-bent, I was already locked in, focused, ready to carry the weight that I was going to go into this year playing my fourth year out. And then they jumped up, and that just showed they wanted me here in the organization,” he said on the podcast. “They appreciated my value. They thought that I added to winning. It was an offer that was too hard to kind of turn down.”
“I think you just don’t know what it’s going to be like to coach stars of that ilk,” Vogel said. “They’ve been wonderful, from the time I took the job, they’ve been very collaborative. Come together with a plan, they’ve helped with the buy in with the rest of the group. It hasn’t been the type of challenge that you may expect coaching stars of that caliber.”
In his second interview since getting axed in December, David Fizdale was on “The Jump” and repeated he had no “regret’ but added: “For me personally, the toughest part was that I didn’t fulfill what I went there to do. I wanted to give the fans a relative team, a winner. The fan base was so awesome and so passionate about the team. The fact that I couldn’t get over the hump to where I wanted to get it to; that part is a tough pill to swallow.”
Storyline: David Fizdale Firing
Any team that holds a formal “shootaround” or, for that matter, a practice, has to invite the media. Players are also supposed to be available in the locker room for 30 minutes prior to each game, but there is a basic working agreement between the league and press that players should either be available at shootaround or before the game, but not both. What has happened, though, is that most of the league’s stars, LeBron included, do not talk in that 30-minute span, ever, even if there is no shootaround.
Teams, like the Lakers, are still holding meetings and walk-throughs and working out injured players the mornings of games, they just aren’t inviting the media. They get away with it by not calling whatever it is that they’re doing a “shootaround.” Not every team is doing this — the Celtics, for instance, had a lengthy shootaround and media session afterward Monday morning — but the Lakers appear to be one. Over and over, the team announces it is not holding a shootaround (or even a practice on an off day), and then their players contradict them by referencing the workouts after the fact. On Monday, Quinn Cook posted a picture to social media of Danny Green at TD Garden for a morning workout.
An agitated Delonte West was captured discussing an alleged altercation. The person who posted the clip of the former NBA player to social media, Twitter user @damani_givens, told Complex that the video was taken in Washington D.C. West appears to be saying that someone approached him with a gun as he was walking down the street. However, when he was asked further detail about his account of the incident, Delonte repeatedly said “I don’t give a fuck” twice before ranting about something that’s difficult to understand.
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January 21, 2020 | 12:24 am UTC Update