Free agency rumors and speculation are one of the great parts about the NBA, and why it’s become such an entertaining league both on and off the court.
However, we should be sure to enjoy Giannis Antetokounmpo as much as possible for who and what he is in this present moment. Based on future free agency speculation, we all may end up missing these days at some point.
The latest Giannis speculation came from Harvard University professor Anita Elberse via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Elberse interviewed Giannis for a case study:
“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” Elberse and her co-author, master’s student Melcolm Ruffin, quoted Antetokounmpo as saying. “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.”
That’s a much different pace from him than we’ve heard in the past, which has mostly been about how he’d love to stay in Milwaukee. However, we also don’t know what “underperforming” is for Giannis. Is that simply having a worse record than last season? Is it not winning a title? I’d guess the latter, but we literally have no idea.
Also, Giannis says he never said these things:
Giannis refuted the quote attributed to him in the Harvard Business School case study. Said his girlfriend asked him yesterday if he really said that. “If you kind of read the last quote, I’ve never used those words in my life,” he responded.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) October 24, 2019
That’s why you should probably take that information, and any other rumors or conjecture, with a grain of salt. Also, maybe just don’t worry about this too much right now.
The Bucks have him signed through this season and next. The free agency speculation is focused on two summers from now when he actually has to face this. So much is going to change before then. Two years ago, the Bucks won 44 games and hardly had the look of a Finals contender. Last year, they hired a new coach in Mike Budenholzer who put shooters around Giannis and promptly helped turn him into the MVP and captain of the East’s top seed in the playoffs.
Right now, all of the superstar things are happening for Giannis. It feels like the NBA’s Face Of The League Torch is being passed from LeBron James to him. He’s getting the sneakers from Nike, he’s doing the commercials, and he’s performing unlike any player we’ve ever seen before while winning MVPs (I put an “s” there because I highly doubt he’s just doing that just once).
These are the years we should cherish. NBA fans just survived an NBA season that was as much of a rumor mill as it was an on-court product. Every game last season was crowded by speculation of where Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis would go. There’s no reason to do that again — especially not for a player under contract for two more seasons.
I’m not a Bucks fan, but it’s cool to see a generational talent land in the lap of a smaller market team that isn’t a historical superpower, even if he may not finish his career there. Giannis-Bucks nostalgia jerseys are going to be super hot with The Youth a few decades from now. I can’t wait to tell all of them how they don’t know shit about Giannis, and how he’s better than the best player of their generation as I slowly get up from my chair, joints aching. That’s what olds do, after all.
Now don’t get me wrong — the speculation and rumors are fun. It’s part of what makes the NBA so enjoyable for its fans, and keeps us anticipating the next taste of the league that we can get, whether in or out of season.
At times, it feels like we’re getting a level of access with our favorite sport that we would never get in the NFL or MLB. The players, and sometimes even coaches, GMs, or owners are all very online. I mean, people didn’t start shout-tweeting “THIS LEAGUEEE” for no reason.
It’s why a simple Instagram post could put people in a frenzy, or at least get them talking, like this one:
Sure, that’s Kostas and not Giannis, but the Lakers aren’t slick. That’s a subtweet (‘gram?) if I’ve ever seen one, and I love it.
None of us would be surprised if Giannis decided to leave Milwaukee for Los Angeles, New York, Miami, or elsewhere. Not only could he secure his bag, but he could — with all due respect to Milwaukee, a good city — live in a bigger and better city. For Giannis’ personal brand that goes beyond basketball, going to one of those cities is a smart next step. A financial ceiling does not exist with him.
From everything we’ve seen out of him, I believe that Giannis wants to win first. I’d argue that most NBA players want the same. It just so happens that he’s just as likely, if not more so, to get that done in a bigger market.
But we don’t need to worry about that quite yet. For now, we get to watch how he follows up an MVP season at just 24 years old in an NBA that’s as wide-open as it’s been in years, and that’s just perfect.