Giannis Antetokounmpo has declared the Milwaukee Bucks his home for the next six seasons as the Greek Freak has signed a max extension Tuesday afternoon. This season was supposed to force the Bucks to sell Giannis on the team moving forward to get him to re-sign by season’s end. Giannis was set to be the most sought after free agent next offseason, with plenty of teams at his doorstep ready to pitch him. Now that he is officially off the market, what does this move mean for the future landscape of the NBA?
What Does Giannis Antetokounmpo Resigning with the Bucks Mean for the Future of the NBA?
Loyalty Still Exists In The NBA
Too often, NBA players place an emphasis on money and winning over being loyal to the ones that gave them a chance. Few exceptions still exist around the league, such as Damian Lillard, but primarily, loyalty has become less and less apparent in the NBA. NBA fans and executives alike drew narratives all offseason that Giannis was unhappy in Milwaukee and wanted out come free agency. Antetokounmpo resigning with the Bucks show that loyalty still exists in a league that continues to negate such an idea.
However, now that the ink is drying, the two sides must prove to each other that this deal is worth the long term agreement. The Bucks have disappointed in back-to-back seasons, being eliminated before reaching the NBA Finals like they were favorited to. Antetokounmpo is coming off back-to-back MVP awards, and with a third in sight, the new-look Bucks could be in position for a push. The Bucks mortgaged their entire future to bring in Jrue Holiday, believing his contributions were enough for Giannis to re-sign. Turns out, they were right.
A big three of Giannis, Holiday, and Khris Middleton should terrify opponents on both ends of the floor. The three of them are elite two-way players who are each locked in for the foreseeable future. Now that the Bucks do not have to worry about Giannis leaving, they cannot become complacent. Now they have to show Giannis that he made the right decision. If Bucks are able to pull away with even one or two championships in this time span, then it is a success. If they continue to struggle in the postseason, the price they paid to keep Giannis will be all for not.
Where Does This Leave Giannis’ Suitors?
Now that Antetokounmpo is officially off the market, it is back to the drawing board for many teams in the NBA. Several franchises were banking on Giannis hitting free agency next offseason and leaving the Bucks, and began preparing their pitches for him. The reigning MVP is a generational talent ready to carry the NBA past the days of LeBron James’ rule. Every team should have been after his services. Now that the Bucks resigned Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee will continue to be among the league’s titans.
One team that was heavily tied to almost every Giannis Antetokounmpo rumor had he left the Bucks was the Miami Heat. The Heat are in one of the more unique situations in the NBA. They are coming off a very successful NBA bubble showing having reached the NBA Finals. Much of their roster consists of young, up and coming prospects who were already exposed to big moments in the postseason. Jimmy Butler helped lead a young core of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson, among others, to success and made them a destination franchise for future free agents, including Giannis.
Due to the fact that many players on the Heat were so young and inexperienced, that meant that they were affordable on their rookie contracts. The team had some room to make a move for Giannis, if they just flipped the contracts of some of their veterans in Andre Iguodala, Kelly Olynyk, and/or Goran Dragic. Also, the Heat extended Bam Adebayo to a monster five year, $195 million extension. This move seemingly took them out of the Giannis sweepstakes as that took a large chunk of the salary. Giannis was paid a five year, $228.2 million contract, the largest in NBA history, and well deserved. Anything short would have been an underpayment.
What Does The Future of the NBA Look Like?
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are the future of the NBA, simply put. This deal solidifies Giannis’ status amongst the best of the NBA, if it were already not. Giannis is a homegrown product in Milwaukee, so it is refreshing to see the Greek Freak re-up with the franchise. The NBA is a better product when there is balance. This season saw a more balanced landscape than any other in recent memory. If Giannis left the Bucks for another franchise, potentially to create a superteam elsewhere, it would have been met with a sour taste by NBA fans. This move will shake the future of the NBA, as Giannis and the Bucks look to prove that the deal is worth every penny.