The spotlight is intensifying on Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo as his Dec. 21 deadline to sign his super-max extension approaches.
Antetokounmpo, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“I trust my agent, I trust Jon Horst and the ownership and they’re taking care of those discussions,” he said. “I’m just going to focus on basketball. I know this is really, really big for the city of the Milwaukee and for the NBA world and the media world and all that, but I’ve been a private person. Whenever… I decide something or I sign a contract you guys probably gonna know before I know. So, yeah, I’ll appreciate that from now on we try not to talk as much about that and just focus on basketball. Because the answer is still going to be the same.”
When asked if he would take the entire time up until the Dec. 21 deadline to make a decision, Antetokounmpo again deferred to his agent and the Bucks front office coming together.
There is one way for Antetokounmpo to end these uncomfortable questions: Sign the extension.
That he hasn’t is the latest indicator he won’t.
If Antetokounmpo knows he won’t sign the extension, he could announce that and get it over with. But that would hasten a dark cloud over Milwaukee’s training camp and still wouldn’t completely halt the questions. There’s no formal way of declining the extension. Antetokounmpo just let the deadline pass, which would allow room for questions about him reconsidering between now and Dec. 21.
If Antetokounmpo knows he will sign the extension, he could have done it before his first media appearance of the season and avoided these awkward exchanges. Antetokounmpo has handled worse. But I don’t see the upside for delaying if Antetokounmpo has already decided to sign.
It’s possible Antetokounmpo is still deliberating, but what is going to change between now and Dec. 21? Though he mentioned his agent and Bucks management holding discussions, there’s nothing to negotiate formally. The super-max extension must start at 35% of the 2021-22 salary cap and last five seasons. It will contain 8% annual raises and a player option or early termination option.
Antetokounmpo just had to decide whether he wants to sign it or – if he has already decided – tell us his decision.