Antetokounmpo: New deal with Bucks in '23 'did not make sense'

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo repeated several times this summer that he wanted to see the organization remain committed to winning a championship before he signed a contract extension, and the trade to acquire star Damian Lillard helped reaffirm his faith that the franchise would continue working toward that goal.

Still, Antetokounmpo reiterated at Bucks media day on Monday afternoon that he does not plan to sign an extension before the season because he could sign a much more lucrative contract next summer.

"Money is not important, but a lot of f---ing money is important," Antetokounmpo said. "So I'm going to sign it next year. It doesn't make sense right now. I want to be a Milwaukee Buck for the rest of my career -- as long as we are winning. It's as simple as that."

Antetokounmpo, who still has at least two more years left on his current contract, became eligible to sign a three-year, $169 million extension this offseason. The deadline for that extension is Oct. 23, the last day before the start of the regular season.

By waiting until next summer, Antetokounmpo could sign a four-year, $233 million extension instead.

"The commitment for me, from the team, it's there," he said. "But this year it did not make sense."

Antetokounmpo comments about his future in Milwaukee this summer made headlines around the league but Bucks general manager Jon Horst said the team was not surprised or motivated by the two-time MVP's remarks over the offseason.

"He hasn't said anything unique or different or new from what he's ever said," Horst said. "We're completely focused on winning. We've invested in winning at a high level."

Still, Horst responded with a major move last week, shaking up the core of the team to acquire Lillard and pair Antetokounmpo with another top-75 player in NBA history for the first time in the career of both players.

"I feel like we are the same person just different size," Antetokounmpo said about Lillard. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He plays to win. He's built from the same cloth.

"I need Dame to be Dame and I think he needs me to be me."

Added Lillard: "I think we'll complement each other really well. He's the type of guy that he's not going into it worried about being the man or anything like that either. So I think it'll work out perfectly."

Lillard said Milwaukee entered his radar as a possible trade destination about two weeks before the trade, but the process this summer to land here was still a whirlwind. He arrived in Milwaukee on Saturday to a welcome party of about 5,000 Bucks fans outside of the arena. So although Lillard was still getting accustomed to his new environment after spending 11 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, he kept emphasizing how excited he was for the best chance to win in his career.

"In my career, in life, I've never been a part of any situation that was not an underdog," Lillard said. "From my AAU program, I played for my neighborhood AAU program. I went to Weaver State, I get drafted to Portland. I've done a lot more overachieving in my career than living up to [expectations].

"I'm excited about that. At my age and at this stage in my career, I think it came at the perfect time. Because I'm prepared for it and a situation like this."

Despite entering with the best record in the NBA, the Bucks lost in the first round of the 2023 playoffs in five games to the Miami Heat. Instead of sticking with the core group that won Milwaukee the 2021 NBA championship, the Bucks jumped at the chance to acquire Lillard, who with Antetokounmpo instantly gives them one of the most formidable duos in the league.

Yet, even though the Bucks will enter the season as one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, Lillard was excited about his early conversation with Antetokounmpo and how they were both ready to get to work.

"When Giannis and I spoke the focal point of that conversation was just that yes it looks good and it's an attractive thing, me and him playing together, the kind of team that we have, but the work has to get done," Lillard said. "I think that's one thing that we're extremely like-minded about. When it comes to having some success, I'm a person that wants to get in the mud and make sure that I'm doing the things that are going to earn us that right to have the type of success. He is too. It made me feel good to see that he thinks that way."