"As long as everybody's on the same page and as long as everybody's fighting for the same thing, fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion, I don't see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years," he said on TNT after being named this year's NBA MVP.
It isn't the first time the two-time MVP has publicly expressed his loyalty to the Bucks after the team was shockingly eliminated by the Miami Heat in five games during the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"It's not happening. That's not happening," he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports on September 8. "Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season."
"If winning a championship was easy, everyone would have one," he added at the time. "We lost. Everyone saw that we lost. It's disappointing, but what are we going to do? We're going to keep working. I've got confidence in my teammates."
While Antetokounmpo continues to declare his intention to remain in Milwaukee, he and the Bucks are entering a fascinating year, with the Greek Freak in the last year of his contract.
He has a few options:
- Sign a supermax deal that will keep him in Milwaukee for another five years after his current deal runs up;
- Hit free agency in a year and keep the leverage of potentially leaving to ensure the Bucks make moves to build a better winner around him; or
- Decide to leave and push for a trade at some point before next summer's free agency.
Given his public remarks, the last option seems unlikely.
Both the supermax route and the free-agency route have their pluses and minuses, however. If he signs the supermax, he'll earn significantly more money than he could in free agency, but he'll lose the leverage to essentially say to the front office, 'Improve this team in the short term or I'll sign elsewhere.' If he hits free agency, he's losing out on millions of dollars but maintains that leverage.
Granted, he could sign the supermax and demand a trade down the line if Milwaukee—which has been a No. 1 seed two years in a row and failed to reach the NBA Finals in each season—can't build a winner around him. That might be the closest to his "have his cake and eat it too" option.
The stakes, in other words, are high for Milwaukee's front office. The 25-year-old is justifiably focused on winning titles. If the Bucks can't build a better contender around him, it's fair to assume he'll eventually leave. For now, however, Antetokounmpo seems determined to win in Milwaukee.