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Are Bucks losing confidence Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign contract before season?

James Harden has arrived in Houston for coronavirus testing, but a report states that he still wants out and would agree to a trade with the 76ers in addition to the Nets.

The ball is in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s court: Will he or won’t he sign a supermax contract extension to stay with Milwaukee before the Dec. 21 deadline to do so? He certainly can find a pen.

Sources have long told NBC Sports they expect him to re-sign (now or next summer) and stay in Milwaukee — and a recent poll of agents found the same thing — but after the Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade fell apart, are the Bucks losing confidence it will happen before the season starts? Maybe, ESPN’s plugged-in Zach Lowe said on “The Jump” (hat tip
Bleacher Report).

The Bucks have “gone kind of silent” on the matter after their failed attempt to acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic.

“I don’t know what that means... But I know that that optimism, I just haven’t been hearing that.”

Milwaukee had been confident the Greek Freak would re-sign after the team traded for Jrue Holiday, a better playoff fit next to Antetokounmpo than Eric Bledsoe. However, Antetokounmpo reportedly preferred Bogdanovic, the gritty fellow European, as the Bucks’ primary target.

It would follow the playbook Antetokounmpo has been using to not sign before the Dec. 21 deadline, keeping pressure on the Bucks organization to improve the roster during the season (he can get the exact same contract next summer from Milwaukee). However, not signing now would bring a flood of speculation that would be a cloud following the Bucks around all season long — at every road game the story would be about Antetokounmpo and his next contract. There would be a stream of stories about what Dallas/Miami/Golden State/every other team could do to land Antetokounmpo. Every national Bucks broadcast would discuss it. It would be a regular topic on NBA talk shows all season long. It could be a distraction.

Antetokounmpo met with Milwaukee ownership after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs, a meeting that reportedly went well and one where the Bucks told the Greek Freak they would pay the tax to contend, but waiting to sign until next summer keeps the pressure up.

The supermax contract will most likely be worth $228.2 million over five years (it could go up to as much as $243.7 million depending on where the salary cap for the 2021-22 season lands). If Antetokounmpo wants a player option for his contract’s final year, the Bucks will give it to him.

The ball is in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s court. The Bucks just seem less confident he is going to play it right now.