Giannis Antetokounmpo is now only a season removed from free agency, and that puts the Milwaukee Bucks in an extremely difficult position. After losing to underdogs in the postseason twice in a row, they have only one more chance to prove to their superstar that they can put a championship-caliber team around him. If not, they could lose him for nothing, but that is a risk that the Bucks are reportedly willing to take. The Bucks are adamant that they will not trade Giannis even if he declines a contract extension this offseason, according to ESPN's Tim Bontemps.
It seems as though Giannis and the Bucks are on the same page on that front. When Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports asked if he would consider requesting a trade, Giannis emphatically said no. "It's not happening. That's not happening," Antetokounmpo said. "Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season."
The exact amount Milwaukee can offer him is uncertain due to the impact the coronavirus has had on the league's finances. As of now, it is expected to fall somewhere in the neighborhood of $220 million over five years. As a point of comparison, the most a free agent with Antetokounmpo's service time could have made from another team last season was around $141 million. The Bucks, through the designated player exception, can offer him 35 percent of the salary cap in the first year of his deal with eight percent raises in each subsequent season for five total years. Opposing teams can offer him 30 percent of the cap with five percent raises for four years.
That's a big financial difference, but given the enormity of even the lesser contracts other teams can offer them, most superstars have prioritized winning above all else. The Bucks have done so in the regular season, finishing with the league's best record in each of the past two seasons. But the Toronto Raptors knocked them out of the Eastern Conference finals a year ago, and this season, they were humiliated by the No. 5-seeded Miami Heat in only five games. To add insult to injury, Milwaukee's only win came in a game Giannis exited with a sprained ankle.
The onus is now on the Bucks. Giannis has given them MVP-caliber production for two seasons. They rewarded him for that last offseason by letting Malcolm Brogdon leave so that they could duck the luxury tax. This offseason will have to be more aggressive. If not? They are in serious jeopardy of losing their best player for nothing.