The Milwaukee Bucks may not have made it all the way to the NBA Finals, but that didn't take away from what was a very successful season. They finished the regular season with the best record in the entire league and made it to the Eastern Conference finals before ultimately falling to the Toronto Raptors in six games.
After making it out of the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001, the 2018-19 campaign could be considered a stepping stone season for the Bucks ... except for the fact that this team could look very different next season.
Three of Milwaukee's five starters -- Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez -- are set for free agency (either restricted or unrestricted) this summer, as is Nikola Mirotic. Meanwhile, Geroge Hill's deal for next season is only partially guaranteed. In other words, Milwaukee's front office has a lot of decisions to make this summer.
In all likelihood, Milwaukee will suffer some cap casualties, especially if they want to make any outside additions. However, MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo wants the Bucks to run it back.
"I want everyone back," Antetokounmpo said of Milwaukee's offseason, via ESPN. "Great fricking team -- unselfish players that play basketball the right way. They're winners. We had a great atmosphere. We didn't have no -- I want to be polite. I want to say the A-word -- we didn't have no buttheads. Obviously, I want everyone back. I am going to let my teammates know that."
Antetokounmpo doesn't sign the checks, but as the team's primary player, he certainly has -- or at least should have -- some serious sway within the organization when it comes to roster construction, and what he wants should be considered when player personnel decisions are made.
Considering how well the Bucks did this season, it's not surprising that Antetokounmpo would like the team to remain largely intact, as he doesn't want Milwaukee's trip to the conference finals this year to be a fluke, but rather the first of many more to come.
"I don't promise we're gonna get 61 [wins] next year," Antetokounmpo said. "But we're gonna put ourselves in a place to be a championship contending team for many more years to come. And there's not a lot of teams that can say that in the league -- there's one, two, three, four teams that can say that -- but we're gonna put ourselves in that situation for many more years to come."
In addition to the Bucks, some of the East's other top teams -- namely the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers -- also face the prospect of losing some key contributors in free agency, so the playoff picture in the East could look very different next season. But, as long as Milwaukee has Antetokounmpo, it has to feel pretty good about its chances.