The clock is ticking for Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign a five-year, super-max contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks and forego unrestricted free agency.
Antetokounmpo can still pass up testing the free-agent waters and (presumably) hearing pitches from the Warriors and a host of other suitors around the NBA, but he won't be able to sign a five-year extension worth $228 million after Dec. 21. Golden State and other potential pursuers should be happy with how the two-time MVP described the status of his contract negotiations Wednesday when he spoke to reporters.
"I'm not focused on that," Antetokounmpo said (h/t ESPN's Eric Woodyard). "I know my agent, Alex [Saratsis], and [Bucks general manager] Jon Horst and the Bucks ownership are focusing on those discussions, but I'm just trying to focus on myself. How I can get better, how I can help my teammates get better, how can we be ready Saturday to play our first preseason game."
Antetokounmpo kept his cards close to the chest Wednesday, but it's unclear how much room there is left for discussion between his agent and the Bucks. He can sign a five-year contract extension worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap in the initial year, with annual 8-percent raises after that. While Antetokounmpo can still re-sign with the Bucks after Dec. 21, he won't be able to re-sign under those terms.
So, the ball would seem to be in Antetokounmpo and his agent's court, despite his deflections Wednesday. Antetokounmpo still has just shy of two weeks to decide whether or not he wants to remain with the Bucks and under those parameters, which no other team would be able to match. He said all the right things about Milwaukee on Wednesday, but didn't seem in a particular rush to make a decision.
"I'm not trying to speed up the process, I'm not trying to be involved in that," Antetokounmpo said. "Obviously, it's something that stresses every player out and it's on my mind, but it's not on my mind. I try to put it out of my mind."
The Bucks, Warriors and rest of the league will wait with baited breath to see if the Dec. 21 deadline comes and goes without Antetokounmpo re-signing. Following an offseason of reportedly fluctuating confidence in Milwaukee over his future, Antetokounmpo can single-handedly put an end to any and all speculation with the stroke of a pen.
It's only going to intensify if he leaves the dotted line blank.