League executives expect Giannis Antetokounmpo to re-sign with Bucks

Kurt Helin

On July 1, Milwaukee GM Jon Horst is going to put a $254 million supermax contract in front of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He is almost certainly going to sign it.

Sources have been saying that to NBC Sports — and we have been reporting that — all season long. While other teams are making the smart play to leave their options open — an MVP entering the prime of his career does not potentially become available often — the Greek Freak was always likely to re-sign in Milwaukee. Other executives have said as much to reporters around the league, but that doesn’t make for exciting headlines, it does not does it generate clicks, so people have focused on the slim chance he leaves. For his part, Antetokounmpo has left the door open to leaving, a page out of LeBron James‘ playbook to keep pressure on the organization to build a winner around him. Nobody expects him to walk through that door.

Antetokounmpo staying is not just what I hear from sources. Here is Tim Bontemps from ESPN.

Given how well the Bucks are playing, every executive we spoke to expects Antetokounmpo to re-sign with Milwaukee. The Bucks are overwhelming favorites to reach the NBA Finals, and falling short of that bar looks to be the only thing that could put Milwaukee’s MVP in play.

Why will Antetokounmpo re-sign with the Bucks. Here’s the bullet point list of reasons:

• Milwaukee can give him five-years, $254 million guaranteed, the richest contract in league history. The most another team can offer is four-years, $188 million. While Antetokounmpo would make money in that fifth year with a new team to cover some of that gap, it wouldn’t be all of it. He would be leaving money on the table.

• The Bucks are a legit title contender with a roster built around him. Antetokounmpo is very competitive and wants to win — and the Bucks are doing that. We all have some questions about the Bucks in the playoffs — will the Bucks role players step up? Will Mike Budenholzer get creative and aggressive? Will their defensive scheme that surrenders threes backfire? — but the Bucks have been the clear-and-away best team in the East and have looked strong against the best teams in the league. Plus, if they make the Finals, that is the definition of a contender.

• For Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee is home. This isn’t a Paul George/Kawahi Leonard situation where he wants to get back to where he grew up, he’s not moving back to Athens to play for Panathinaikos. Milwaukee is the only city in America he’s called home. More than that, Milwaukee is the first place he and his family felt safe. Plus, now he has a child in that city. That’s a lot of ties to a place.

• Then there’s this quote from Antetokounmpo’s agent, Alex Saratsis, of Octagon Basketball, speaking to  TMJ4 News of Milwaukee:

“Giannis believes in loyalty, he believes in the people who’ve been there with him from the beginning, and I think he feels that kinship to the city because they have really helped raise him.”

Other teams are going to watch Antetokounmpo and leave the door open. Every word he says during the playoffs, especially if he gets frustrated, will be scrutinized. Everyone will be looking for signs.

But come July, Antetokounmpo almost certainly will sign the contract and stay in Milwaukee.