NBA rumors: Bucks winning key to Giannis Antetkounmpo staying in Milwaukee

Josh Schrock
NBC Sports BayArea

With the Warriors' season over, all that's left to imagine what the next phase of the dynasty will look like.

Steve Kerr, Bob Myers and the Warriors' brass have an important summer ahead of them, trying to navigate a murky NBA draft and weigh rest versus rust for a team that will have nine months off between competitive games. For many fans, they hope the reimagined dynasty comes fit with another superstar in 2021, dreaming of the Warriors somehow luring Giannis Antetokounmpo away from the Milwaukee Bucks.

To be clear, dreams of Antetokounmpo suiting up next to Steph Curry at Chase Center falls somewhere between wild fantasy and pipe dream. The cap gymnastics the Warriors would have to do to acquire Antetokounmpo and build and team around him and Curry alone would make the brain bleed. Couple that with the fact that Antetokounmpo has given no indications he wants to leave Milwaukee and that acquiring him almost certainly would mean losing Klay Thompson and the Warriors will quickly learn this isn't Kevin Durant 2.0.

But if the Warriors have any hope of stealing Antetokounmpo, they need one thing to happen over the next two years: The Bucks must suffer disappointing playoff defeats to make the reigning NBA MVP doubt his title chances in Cream City. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Antetokounmpo's desire to win truly trumps all, and the Bucks know it's their only way of keeping him.

"You got to look at the Raptors, the Lakers ... obviously the Warriors," Charania said of teams who will chase Antetokounmpo on Complex Sports' "Load Management" podcast. "One thing I do know is how important winning is to Giannis. That isn't just lip service. Everyone around the Bucks understands that we have this window this year, next year to try and a make a run at winning a championship and if we don't Giannis will then look at it out of the lens of, 'Look, I gave Milwaukee all these years. Our goal is to win a championship. We had three amazing chances.' At that point, he'll really have an opportunity to look at the teams who have interest."

Antetokounmpo's desire to win and do so in Milwaukee is well-documented.

"My goal is going to stay the same: It's get better, take it day by day, step by step, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship," Antetokounmpo said last offseason. "As long as that we are all on the same page and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years? Why not play 25 years? Why not, after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office? But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles. ... We got to focus on winning a championship."

The Bucks have surrounded Antetokounmpo with a great supporting cast that includes Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez. The Bucks were on pace to cruise to 70 wins this year before the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A canceled season would have robbed the Bucks of one of their two chances to prove to Antetokounmpo that they have built a title-worthy roster around him. With the NBA set to return at the end of July, the Bucks will get that opportunity.

The Warriors stealing Antetokounmpo is the longest of long shots. The Bucks are in the driver's seat andare  about three laps ahead of any of the chasers. Winning a title in one of the next two seasons would put Antetokounmpo's name on the max contract extension he's sure to be offered this offseason.

[RELATED: Why NBA restart is bad news for Warriors' pursuit of Giannis]

Curry and Antetokounmpo together would be an unstoppable duo and extend the Warriors' dynasty for another five to seven years. It's fun to dream, but the only way Antetokounmpo will consider making the move to the Bay is if the Bucks fall flat on their face in the big moments. If it becomes clear to him that the roster constructed around him is one that is bound to fold under playoff pressure.

He wants to stay and win in Milwaukee. The only way he leaves is if winning there doesn't seem possible.

NBA rumors: Bucks winning key to Giannis Antetkounmpo staying in Milwaukee originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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