Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t want to leave Milwaukee.
But perhaps more importantly, he said Tuesday after signing a three-year, $186 million contract extension, he didn’t want that narrative to hang over his every move throughout the season.
“I knew in my heart I wanted to stay,” Antetokounmpo said. via ESPN. “I don’t want people, when we lose a game, to come back and say, ‘Oh, Giannis is irritated, he doesn’t like what’s going on, this, that, he’s going to leave, blah, blah, blah. ‘
“NO. The conversation will be all about basketball at the moment.”
That will make this season a lot easier for Antetokounmpo and Bucks fans everywhere.
Antetokounmpo’s new contract will keep him in Milwaukee for at least the 2027-28 season and ends the threat of him being a free agent in 2025. The extension was a bit of a surprise considering Antetokounmpo said earlier this offseason that he wasn’t willing to sign an extension until everyone in the organization was on the same page.
However, after he said that, the Bucks took steps to prove they were serious about winning a championship. They traded for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, bringing in another superstar to play alongside Antetokounmpo under new coach Adrian Griffin. They also signed Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez to new contracts.
“I want to be here, right? There is no secret in this. Everyone knows that,” Antetokounmpo said. via ESPN. “I cause a lot of people stress. And I don’t want to be the reason a lot of people are stressed because my life is really stressed and I know how I feel. So if I can make it easier. I’ll help the organization and my teammates and put us in a better position to win a championship, hell yes. Let’s do it.”
Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP, averaged 31.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season, his 10th in the league and a career high. However, the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round – marking their second straight early exit following their title run in 2021. This led to the firing of Mike Budenholzer and ultimately the hiring of Griffin.
With that behind them and Antetokounmpo signed, Milwaukee can focus on its season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
“Giannis is not a distraction. He’s the best player in the world and I never saw it that way,” Griffin said. via ESPN. “It’s part of the deal, but we’re happy, very happy, that he decided to sign this extension.”
“He signed his extension yesterday and then was the last one to leave the gym today. That just shows how special he is.”