Before the NBA season was halted due to COVID-19, it appeared as if the Milwaukee Bucks were on their way to the NBA Finals and, possibly, the NBA Title. Such a feat would have cemented the fact that Giannis will stay in Milwaukee in everyone’s minds. Since the shutdown, though, the national media has projected landing spots for Giannis once he hits free agency. It seems no one outside of Wisconsin believes he will stay with the team that drafted him. Here are three reasons why they are wrong:
Giannis has always claimed that his career is not about being the highest paid player. Regardless of whether or not that is true, the fact that Milwaukee can offer him more money than any other team cannot hurt their chances of convincing him to stay. The Bucks have the option of offering Giannis a five-year $253.8 million contract. This would make Giannis the highest-paid player in NBA history. The most any other team can offer Giannis is a four-year deal worth $161.3 million. We know the Bucks are ready, willing, and able to offer Giannis his supermax contract. Bucks GM Jon Horst was fined $50,000 for announcing that the team planned to do just that once their superstar was eligible.
Milwaukee’s Winning Culture
When Giannis was first drafted by the Bucks, the team was mired in a long rebuild. After finishing 15-67 after his rookie season, the Bucks started to improve. The team was sold, a new GM was hired, and a new coach was brought in. The team came within one game of the NBA finals in 2019, the same year Giannis was named MVP of the league. Giannis himself has stated that if the Bucks remain committed to winning, he does not see a reason to play anywhere else. “”As long as … we are all on the same page and we are all focused on [winning a championship], why not play for the Bucks 20 years? Why not play 25 years?”
Recent free agents who have signed with the Bucks cited Giannis as a major reason as to why they chose to play for Milwaukee. Here the Bucks have an opportunity few teams have. Milwaukee has a superstar who wants to stay put, and other good players want to play with that superstar. That is, indeed, a winning combination.
Milwaukee Is Home
Giannis was drafted by the Bucks as an 19-year old rookie with no idea of how to live on his own. Team staffers assisted him in finding housing, setting up a bank account, and helping his family move to America. There is a famous story in Milwaukee about Giannis and an older Milwaukee couple. He had just finished sending his last bit of money to his family, but had forgotten he needed money for a cab to the arena. A couple recognized him and offered to drive him to the Bradley Center so that he would not be late.
Of course, players leave the teams that drafted them all the time. Perhaps a time will come when Giannis leaves Milwaukee. For now, though, all indications point to the fact that Giannis loves Milwaukee just as much as Milwaukee loves him.
He’s not going anywhere.
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