Giannis Antetokounmpo says he is “not focused” on signing a new contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, as the deadline approaches for him to accept a ‘supermax’ offer.
Antetokounmpo, the league’s two-time reigning MVP who turned 26 on Sunday, faces an NBA-imposed deadline of December 21 to decide whether he will sign with the Bucks and remain with the team or roll the dice and consider entering free agency after the 2020-21 season.
The Bucks can offer a five-year, $228.2m deal that would increase to $243.7m if the league salary cap returns to pre-COVID levels. His current, expiring deal was worth $100m for four years.
“Right now, I am not focused on that,” Antetokounmpo said on Wednesday.
“I am just trying to focus on myself.”
Antetokounmpo added he is leaving any contract talks to his agent, Alex Saratsis.
Despite registering the strongest NBA regular-season record for each of the last two campaigns, the Bucks have failed to reach the NBA finals, with a heavy Eastern Conference semi-finals defeat to the fifth-seeded Miami Heat last season raising questions about their ability to compete in the playoffs.
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Before reporting to the Bucks last week, Antetokounmpo told a TV station in Greece he is open to teaming up with another superstar – as LeBron James did with Anthony Davis last season – if it means winning.
“This is a statement that I have never made before: If LeBron and Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis came to Milwaukee; I would have been good with that,” Antetokounmpo said last week. “I am not interested if I am the top, second or third name, okay? Because I want to win.
“For sure, when I was 18 or 19 years old, maybe I didn’t understand what you need to do to win. But right now, I am 25 and I want to win because when I retire, that’s what people will remember. And if I got LeBron, KD, Davis, if all those came, I wouldn’t mind at all. I don’t care if I am the top [player] on the team.”
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Multiple teams have been rumoured to be waiting in the wings for the two-time NBA MVP if he opts not to stay in Milwaukee, including the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.
The Bucks are scheduled to open the 2020 season on December 23 against the Boston Celtics.
By then, it will be clear to Bucks teammates, including All-Star Khris Middleton, whether the “Greek Freak” is likely to remain in Wisconsin.
“I have confidence in what we’ve done in the past and what we can do forward,” Middleton said, reminiscing on his own free agency decision.
“So as long as I’m confident in that and show him that I’m confident in what we can do and what we can accomplish and keep grinding together, I’m not going to worry about it too much.
“I know he has a big decision on his hands but at the end of the day sometimes you just got to let him be him. I can’t control his life, I can’t tell him what to do just like he didn’t with me.”
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