Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, more

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Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo made waves this week by openly opining about his future with the Milwaukee Bucks, saying on a podcast that if there’s a team that gives him a better chance to win a championship in the future, he has to take that situation:

Despite the reaction on social media to Antetokounmpo’s comments, Bucks teammate Khris Middleton didn’t seem fazed, saying that Antetokounmpo always makes these types of comments when he’s up for an extension:

“I think it’s kind of business as usual either way,” Middleton told ESPN in a phone interview. “It doesn’t affect me personally. I don’t think it affects us as a team. I think this is something he said almost every year he’s come up in contract extension talks.” “We always want him back for sure. Let’s be for sure and let everyone know that. We want this guy to come back because he’s one of the best players in the world. He’s one of the best players in franchise history. So when he says things like that, I think he just wants to challenge the team, the organization, to keep putting us in position to win championships.”

ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst, meanwhile, said it’s ’50/50′ whether Antetokounmpo will remain a Buck for the long term:

Brian Windhorst on how likely it is that Giannis Antetokounmpo is a member of the Bucks after his contract expires: I would say right now it’s 50/50 at best and I don’t think that’s new information, I think the Bucks knew that already. They knew that even before they got knocked out out of the playoffs last year. If you look at the Bucks’ roster, which is primarily in its 30s, if you look at their asset base, which is depleted, and you look at Giannis, who’s 28 years old, these are on different tracks. It’s not impossible they could pull some sort of maneuver – and I don’t think any of this comes as a surprise to the Bucks. I think it’s uncomfortable that he’s being so public about it, I think this is the way it is.

And ESPN’s Zach Lowe said that Antetokounmpo’s comments raised eyebrows around the league and could lead to teams planning their future a little more carefully with the possibility of Antetokounmpo being open to a move elsewhere:

While Wojnarowski didn’t name any specific players, his ESPN colleague Zach Lowe followed up on Woj’s point by directly mentioning Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and obliquely referencing Sixers center Joel Embiid as well. “Look, not to put it too baldly, but Giannis’ recent comments have changed the landscape of the league, at least a little bit, and have had teams at least have the meeting of, ‘Wait a second, do we need to keep our powder dry if we think we have a one percent, two percent, five percent (chance to acquire him)?’” Lowe said. “And by the way, the Bucks may not to have trade Giannis at all. They may win the title this year, everything’s fine, he signs an extension. But those comments, along with everything going on in Philly, have at least forced you to have the meeting of, ‘Do we need to keep our powder dry?’”

A potential Antetokounmpo trade is far down the line and – in reality – quite unlikely; the Bucks would probably just let him hit free agency and try to convince him to re-sign rather than ever trade arguably the best player in their franchise’s history.

But it’s a story to monitor nonetheless.

For more on the Giannis Antetokounmpo trade front, click here.

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