The 2022-23 season was supposed to be the revenge of the Milwaukee Bucks. Their championship defense in 2022 was cut short when Khris Middleton was injured in the first round against the Chicago Bulls. A season that had already been dampened by Brook Lopez missing all but 13 regular-season games. Giannis Antetokounmpo put forth a herculean effort against the Boston Celtics in the second round, but the Bucks fell in seven games.
Their revenge tour started shaky, but the regular season ended with the Bucks possessing the best record. However, once again the first round was a damage to their health. Antetokounmpo suffered a back injury on one of those ridiculous charge-take plays when the defender basically undercuts the offensive player to try and draw an offensive foul. He returned to the floor for Games 3-5, but he did not play well, and the Bucks lost in five games.
Antetokounmpo has three years left on his current deal with the Bucks, and he will make over $60 million annually. Will that money come from the Bucks, or somewhere else like say Pat Riley, and the Miami Heat?
He recently appeared on the Bleav network’s 48 Minutes podcast. When asked if he sees himself staying with the Bucks for his entire career, he made it clear that will only happen if the team remains of championship caliber.
“If the Milwaukee Bucks are on the same page for the rest of my career, great. If not, I have to win,” Antetokounmpo said on the podcast. “I have to win, and I think the city, and people will understand it. Because I’m one of the most competitive guys, and I gave everything I can for the city of Milwaukee.
“I’m a Milwaukee Buck, but most importantly I’m a winner. I want to win. I have to do whatever it takes for me to win, and if there’s a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brien I have to take that better situation.”
Haslem family, the message has been sent. Jimmy and Dee purchased former co-owner Marc Lasry’s share of the franchise for $3.5 million in spring 2023. The Cleveland Browns’ principal owners will join Wes Eden as they try to keep a competitive roster around one of the greatest players in franchise history. This new partnership has already acted swiftly by firing 2021 NBA Champion head coach Mike Budenholzer following this past season’s first-round exit.
Antetokounmpo said in the interview his stance has not changed throughout his career with the Bucks. He also said early in the show that this was his first podcast interview, so maybe this is the first time that he has explained himself in a long-form setting — and not in his first language.
However, his intentions appeared to be made crystal clear. This relationship between him and the Bucks is good, but he will be 31 years old when his current deal expires. He will certainly not want to be a part of a fixer-upper in the future.
As arguably the best player in the league, Antetokounmpo is using the LeBron James playbook by keeping the pressure on management at all times. He doesn’t make James’ money off of the floor, so he will likely not apply the pressure by signing one, and one contracts for the rest of his career.
Instead, Antetokounmpo has made his parameters clear. This team either stays good, or he is gone. Regardless of his definition of “failure” after the 2023 first-round loss, he doesn’t want any part of that finish again.