This season was one of the biggest for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Next season will be even important. It could determine whether or not Giannis Antetokoumpo remains in Milwaukee.
With his second-consecutive all-NBA selection, Antetokounmpo is eligible to sign the largest contract in NBA history — a five-year extension worth $247.3 million with the Bucks heading into the 2020-21 season.
Antetokounmpo said he wants to run it back again next season.
“I want everyone back,” Antetokounmpo told reporters Monday. “Great fricking team — unselfish players that play basketball the right way. They’re winners. We had a great atmosphere. We didn’t have no — I want to be polite. I want to say the A-word — we didn’t have no buttheads.
“Obviously, I want everyone back. I am going to let my teammates know that.”
It could be difficult to do so. And, even if they did, that might be the reason Antetokounmpo leaves.
Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic are unrestricted free agents. Malcolm Brogdon is a restricted free agent.
Khris Middleton has a player option he will not sign, and George Hill has an $18-million team-option the Bucks likely won’t sign.
The Bucks, who did re-sign Eric Bledsoe for four years, $70 million during the season, could bring those players back next season with some fancy accounting.
But, if they do, and the team doesn’t get back to the promised land, Antetokounmpo might look at the roster, capped out with the same players that couldn’t get it done and a roster unable to make many moves, and opt to leave.
The Bucks, however, might have little choice.
They can re-sign most of their players and head into the luxury tax. Lopez would be the most difficult, given the salary cap restrictions because he signed as a free agent — not traded or drafted by the Bucks, like the other players.