Giannis Antetokounmpo reportedly walked out of his postgame press conference following the Milwaukee Bucks' Game 6 loss to the Toronto Raptors because he was unhappy with a report written by ESPN.com's Malika Andrews.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said on Monday's episode of First Take that he spoke to Andrews, who said Antetokounmpo caught wind of the report about his future in Milwaukee and walked out because he refused to answer her question:
"So inside of a 15- to 20-minute period after losing the game, he was made aware of an article that [Andrews] had written where basically she did her homework, spoke to a multitude of people and was thoroughly informed that, again, a lot of his, you know, decision-making as it pertains to his willingness to stay in Milwaukee are tied to reaching the NBA Finals. If Milwaukee's progress towards the Finals is impeded in any way, this season, next season, etc. at some point in time, he's going to want his way out. In a period of 20 minutes, in the immediate aftermath of suffering the most devastating loss of his professional career, he got wind of that story, and he was not happy about it."
Andrews' report poses the possibility that Antetokounmpo may want to leave Milwaukee if the team does not make enough improvements to reach the NBA Finals next season. Three Bucks starters will be free agents this summer: Khris Middleton (player option), Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon (restricted). Management will be tasked with deciding whether running it back or making adjustments to the core is the best course of action.
The Bucks can present Antetokounmpo with a five-year supermax contract that would pay him $247.3 million over five seasons next summer. It would be the richest deal in NBA history, but supermaxes have not always enticed players into staying with their teams.
Kawhi Leonard requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last summer even though the supermax was on the table. Anthony Davis informed the New Orleans Pelicans he has no interest in signing a potential supermax this summer and wants to be traded. Only four players—Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and John Wall—have signed supermax deals.
Antetokounmpo has publicly remained fiercely loyal to the Bucks, but it's fair to wonder about his future. He's the overwhelming favorite to be the league MVP, has a growing brand outside basketball and does not play in a destination that typically attracts big names. The Bucks have to add stars via the draft or through trades with hopes they ultimately re-sign.
Milwaukee may have just seen the limits to how far a team with Middleton as its second-best player can go. If Antetokounmpo looks at the lay of the land and sees a team in neutral, it's possible he could reverse course and become the latest star to request a trade.