UPDATED 10/24, 4:00 p.m. ET: Giannis Antetokounmpo clarified comments he reportedly made in a case study with Harvard Business School. "As I've said there's going to be a lot of stories that are going to come out," he said according to The Athletic. "I think everybody knows how sensitive this timing is. They're going to come out with a bunch of stories and all that. My girlfriend Mariah asked me yesterday. She said, 'Did you actually say this?' I said, 'If you're going to read the last quote, I've never used those words in my life.'"
Antetokounmpo was quoted as saying it would be "difficult" for him to re-sign with the Bucks if they underperform.
"I'm not going to get into that. As I said, the last—what is it called—quote, paragraph, it's words that I didn't use," he added. "Underperforming or whether or deciding, all those words. I've never used those words in all my life. As I said, I'm not going to talk about it. There can be stories coming out. I said this, I said that. I said this. But I'm not going to get into it at all."
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Giannis Antetokounmpo could be the biggest free agent to hit the market in 2021. Up to this point, the narrative surrounding the reigning MVP is that he shies away from the super-team concept and prefers the small market of Milwaukee. But his could change is the Bucks don't meet his expectations.
During a conversation with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse, Antetokounmpo said that his decision to resign with the Bucks would become "a lot more difficult" if the team underperforms. "So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there's no other place I want to be," Giannis said. "But if we're underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult."
Giannis was able to lead the Bucks to the best record in the NBA last season, before running into a buzzsaw during the Eastern Conference Finals when Toronto's defense—spearheaded by Kawhi Leonard—limited Antetokounmpo's paint touches and forced his supporting cast to create plays. Now that Kawhi is back to battling in the West, the Bucks have an opportunity to establish their dominance in the East and potentially make the Finals. If they fail to take advantage of this opportunity, Giannis may forgo his five-year, $253 million super-max contract in exchange for a more championship-ready organization.
Gainnis' comments were a part of a case study conducted by Elberse. His response wasn't caught on video, but was written and recorded in the report. "I wasn’t in the room when [Antetokounmpo] said it," Bucks co-owner, Jamie Dinan, told USA Today. "So I don’t know if they goaded him a little bit to kind of get some conflict." As for Giannis, he won't be providing any context to his answer because he's elected not to talk about his contract during the season.