Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo has vaulted his name into the category of the NBA's best player, as he continues to get better and better each season. He collected his third All-Star nod in a row last season, while averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.5 blocks.
At the ripe age of 24, Antetokounmpo has a very bright future ahead of him. Whether or not it'll remain in Milwaukee, though, is the question.
Antetokounmpo highlights a star-studded 2021 free agent class, and fans will continue to hold their breath in hopes that he wants to remain a Buck. Other teams, like the Knicks, are most likely eyeing a potential departure into the free agent market as we speak.
If the Bucks want to keep him, they better continue to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. At least, that's what it allegedly sounded like from Antetokounmpo.
In a spring interview with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse and master's student Melcolm Ruffin, who were doing a case study on the Bucks, Antetokounmpo discussed what he wants to see from the Bucks moving forward.
"I want the Bucks to build a winning culture," Antetokounmpo told Elberse, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Rick Romell. "So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there's no other place I want to be. But if we're underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult."
However, on Thursday afternoon, Antetokounmpo refuted the quote, according to Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel.
"If you kind of read the last quote, I've never used those words in my life," he said.
Regardless, here's the deal: Antetokounmpo is eligible for a five-year, $253 million extension with the Bucks after this season. If the Bucks make another deep playoff run, and hopefully make it to the Finals in Antetokounmpo's eyes, there's a good chance he'll want to sign the dotted line -- granted the Bucks extend the offer, which they would be remissed not to.
If Antetokounmpo doesn't decide to sign an extension, he would need to play out the 2020-21 season in Milwaukee before hitting the free agent market for the first time in his career.
The Bucks, then, will need to show him that growth of being a perrenial Finals contender, or he'll bring his services elsewhere. Could that elsewhere be Madison Square Garden with the Knicks?
It's a fantasy at the moment, but something fans would salivate over if the Knicks have the chance to make that happen. Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry didn't add another superstars this summer despite having two supermax slots to work with. That could now work in their favor if they keep that same mindset this upcoming offseason, and head into 2021 gunning for a group that includes LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard as well.
To land Antetokounmpo, though, the Knicks will also need to show that they're ready to turn the corner and become the playoff contender they have been rebuilding to be for years now.
So, while the Knicks kick off their season Wednedsay night against the Spurs, fans should also be watching the Bucks this season to see how they are progressing with Antetokounmpo leading the way.