Milwaukee Bucks of America star, Giannis Adetokunbo (Antetokounmpo) has pledged that he will remain loyal to the National Basketball Association (NBA) club, despite their elimination from the semi-finals stage of this season’s play-offs, megasportsarena.com reports.
‘The Greek Freak’ missed action for his side in Tuesday’s fourth fixture of their series against Miami Heat and The Bucks struggled without the injured reigning NBA most valuable player, even as Khris Middleton continued to step up in his efforts that saw him top-score with 23 points and seven rebounds.
However, against all pre-series forecasts, The Bucks are out of the race for the NBA title once again, while The Heat are through to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014, after the team from Miami ended Milwaukee’s season with a 103-94 victory in Orlando, Florida.
While 25-year-old Antetokounmpo sat out the game in agony, The Heat fired from all over the court to take the series 4-1, with Jimmy Butler one of six Miami players to score double figures – as he collected 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The defeat quickly raised questions about the future of Antetokounmpo with The Bucks, as he is eligible for a super-max extension this off-season in a bargain deal that is expected to be worth around $254m over five years.
It becomes the second straight season that The Bucks have entered the NBA’s post-season with the league’s best record but again failed to advance to the Finals; thereby leaving observers wondering what could be the next focus of last year’s MVP and this season’s best defensive player, who could not feature in his side’s 103-94 Game 5 loss because of a right ankle sprain.
The 6-foot-11 forward, though, showed early signs of his unflinching loyalty to the team, as he was seen actively engaged on the bench and pep talks at halftime, then rebounded for his pals during the break and zipped warm-up passes to his shooters for approximately five minutes.
Nonetheless, speculation soon erupted that Antetokounmpo, a four-time NBA All-Star, could yet be on his way at the end of this season, especially as The Bucks’ general manager, Jon Horst has proven that he is willing to push transactions and splash cash to prevent the club’s roster from becoming stagnant.
Consequently, with Antetokounmpo slated to be a free agent after all the action, apprehension is high that he could hold the league hostage this off-season and seek a new destination, while The Bucks will explore all avenues to find new stars to upgrade their roster.
Among the players already under the radar in Milwaukee is Oklahoma City Thunder star player, Chris Paul and New York Times’ reporter, Marc Stein alluded in his latest write up that the fast-rising lad could be a potential target for The Bucks.
However, Antetokounmpo appeared to pour cold water on all those widespread speculations and insinuations, as he declared after Tuesday’s loss that he is now only thinking about getting back to work
Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports: “We lost. Everyone saw that we lost. It’s disappointing, but what are we going to do? We’re going to keep working. I’ve got confidence in my teammates. Everyone has a role to play.
“Some see a wall and go. I plow through it. I trust my teammates. It’s supposed to be hard. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season. If winning a championship was easy, everyone would have one.
“You see my brother, Thanasis, he’s always up cheering and doing whatever he can when he’s not playing. I’m no different. This is a team and I’m going to do whatever I can to help our team win games.”