When Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a contract extension with the team in Dec. 2020, it put to bed rumors about his potential departure. When the Bucks won a championship in June, it cemented that he could win in Milwaukee, leaving no reason for him to jump ship for a different squad.
However, we’re just five months removed from Antetokounmpo’s legendary Finals performance, and just a month removed from the Bucks raising their championship banner and showing off their rings, and yet Giannis leaving Milwaukee rumors have entered the conversation again. Except this time, it’s coming from Antetokounmpo himself.
During an interview with GQ, Antetokounmpo touched on the topic of his status with the Bucks, and while he didn’t suggest that he’s interested in leaving the team anytime in the near future, he certainly didn’t close the door on the possibility.
In the end Giannis decided to stay in Milwaukee because it was difficult. And then, improbably, the Bucks won. “One challenge was to bring a championship here and we did,” he told me. “It was very hard, but we did. Very, very hard. I just love challenges. What’s the next challenge? The next challenge might not be here.” It’s not that he doesn’t love Milwaukee, he said. But he was always wary of things becoming too easy. “Me and my family chose to stay in this city that we all love and has taken care of us—for now,” Giannis said. “In two years, that might change. I’m being totally honest with you. I’m always honest. I love this city. I love this community. I want to help as much as possible.”
Well at least he’s honest. If you’re the Bucks front office, this probably sends off a little warning signal in the back of your head that the superstar on your team isn’t closing the door on tackling the “next challenge” somewhere else. Giannis’ agent, while trying his best to downplay the remarks, still didn’t leave out the possibility of him leaving in a few years.
“I don’t think it’s, ‘I’m thinking about leaving the Bucks,’ ” Alex Saratsis told GQ. “But I think he’s genuinely like: ‘OK, I have reached the pinnacle. The next challenge is, let’s repeat.’ But what happens if you do repeat? What’s the next challenge? What is that next barrier? When you think about it from a basketball perspective, by the age of 26, this kid has accomplished everything. So sometimes you’re going to have to manufacture what those challenges are.”
Like Saratsis said, Giannis has accomplished everything he possibly can in a Bucks uniform, with a trophy room filled with awards like Most Improved Player (2017), Defensive Player of the Year (2020), two MVP awards (2019, 2020) and a championship. So it’s not surprising to hear that a guy who prides himself on not taking the easy route, is always looking ahead for the next challenge, with or without the Milwaukee Bucks.
But that doesn’t mean Antetokounmpo is planning on asking for a trade in the near future, because despite the 6-8 start to the season, the Bucks should still make it to at least the Eastern Conference Finals this season. Looking past this year, Milwaukee is built to be a championship-contending team so long as the front office continues to build and improve the roster around Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. So while these comments don’t read as anything too alarming for Milwaukee right now or in the near future, it does leave open the possibility of Giannis considering playing for another team at some point down the road.