From the second the Miami Heat bounced Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks out of the bubble, NBA teams -- the Warriors chief among them -- started circling like sharks in the water, hoping it would be the straw that leads Antetokounmpo to want out of Milwaukee.
However, it appears the loss to the Heat, while disappointing, won't push Antetokounmpo out of Cream City. At least, not yet.
Antetokounmpo had a three-hour meeting with Bucks owner Marc Lasry to discuss the direction of the franchise. The meeting was positive for both sides, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick and Eric Nehm.
"Sources say all parties left in good spirits and with a sense of synergy that the Bucks certainly hope continues," Amick and Nehm write. "The meeting between Antetokounmpo and Lasry does not solidify Antetokounmpo’s future in Milwaukee, but it does serve as an important first step in one of the most important offseasons in the franchise’s history."
Per league rules, the Bucks were not allowed to discuss the max contract extension they plan to offer Antetokounmpo. They had to sign a document saying they did not broach the subject.
Antetokounmpo is eligible to hit free agency after next season, and the Bucks know that how next season goes will determine how the 2019 NBA MVP feels about his long-term prospects in Milwaukee.
The meeting centered on the Bucks' roster and why it failed against Miami. According to Amick and Nehm, the Bucks have targeted the shooting woes against Miami as a reason for their defeat and not "wall" the Heat former on defense to slow down Antetokounmpo.
Many have floated the idea of the Bucks trying to swing a trade for Chris Paul in the offseason, but Amick and Nehm say that's an idea that Bucks ownership isn't high on.
The Warriors, along with many other teams, understandably are salivating at the chance to land Antetokounmpo should he decide he can't win a title in Milwaukee. Much has been made of Antetokounmpo's admiration for Steph Curry, but acquiring Antetokounmpo would require the Warriors to pay a hefty price that would include Andrew Wiggins (to match salaries in a sign-and-trade) and likely parting ways with Klay Thompson in order to have enough money to fill out a roster around Curry and Antetokounmpo, both of whom would be making around $40 million per year.
The Bucks' loss was disappointing, but Antetokounmpo has given no indication that he wants to leave. He said he wouldn't ask for a trade following the loss to the Heat. He thanked Bucks fans in a tweet Tuesday while once again alluding to his plan to fight through adversity in Milwaukee and not run to a different contender.
In the end, it is Antetokounmpo's decision. And, for now, it appears he wants to stay and win in Milwaukee.