Right as the weekend was getting kicked off, the Milwaukee Bucks went and found themselves embroiled in an international basketball conspiracy involving Giannis Antetokounmpo. The details remain sketchy, though it is clear that Giannis will no longer be participating in the upcoming EuroBasket tournament with the national team.
What a way to start a week in the offseason.
In honor of being accused of wrong-doing by the Greek basketball federation and supposedly being under investigation by FIBA officials, this week we'll be reading plenty about Antetokounmpo. The NBA season is but a handful of weeks away now so discussion of MVP odds, sneaker deals, the role Giannis may play in this season's success and more make their way to this week's piece.
My rough understanding of the conspiracy timeline from the weekend is as follows: First, Giannis meets with Milwaukee's team doctors at an event in China to do some tests on his knees which have reportedly been sore for a couple weeks. He fails the physical in some capacity and then posts that he will be bowing out of Eurobasket.
Next, the Greek Basketball Federation goes on the offensive accusing Antetokounmpo and the Bucks/NBA in conspiring to keep Giannis from playing for the national team. The idea is that either the Bucks put pressure on Giannis to bow out against his wishes, or that perhaps the Bucks are taking the flak for him after he decided on his own to take a rest instead of playing further.
Now we’ve reached the above point with the NBA and the Bucks each sharply denying that they or the Bucks forced Giannis to forgo playing. You can find the full comments from all involved parties in the above story and here in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece relating to the events.
Assuming rehab goes according to plan, Antetokounmpo will be entering the upcoming season with the sixth-best odds of garnering an MVP award. That leaves him ahead of names like Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and Paul George among others.
He's still behind the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, reigning-MVP Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard, but that apparently won't phase him.
The MVP is normally an award given to the best player on the best team in the NBA, but that shouldn't preclude Giannis from being in the running. Sometimes a media narrative can be enough to propel someone to the podium (i.e. Westbrook's triple-double season, Derrick Rose being the non-LeBron candidate, etc.), and what better narrative is there than the young Greek leading his plucky Eastern Conference team to a much-better-than-expected season?
The only thing better than having one NBA superstar on your roster is having two (or three, if you can swing it). Obviously the Bucks haven't nabbed that second piece and so they're left cobbling together their remaining pieces to make up for that gap in production.
A fair question then arises: Do the Bucks have enough on the roster to assist Antetokounmpo this year? Roster turnover this offseason has been pretty minimal (bon voyage, Michael Beasley), so Jared Dubin at the Step Back dove in to see if there's enough still waiting in the wings to propel the Bucks to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Headline numbers related to NBA contracts are often eye-popping, but sneaker deal values continue to grow in importance as a supplemental income for many of the NBA's stars.
Now, it appears that it is Giannis Antetokounmpo's time to snag a big shoe endorsement.
According to his agent, Giannis has been making a measly $25,000/year on his current Nike deal (though he did get $50,000 in incentives for making the All-Star Game). Now that he's set to go on the market, he'll be looking at something more closely in the $7-$10 million range annually over a five-year period.
Much will be made of how any suitor will plan on featuring him in their marketing heading forward, and both Adidas and Under Armor have shown interest. It could all be a moot point, however, as Nike holds a match clause in his contract that could see him return to his original endorser once everything settles.
High stakes sneaker drama!
Ex-UVA Star Malcolm Brogdon Speaks Passionately on Charlottesville (Sports Illustrated) & Former UVA Star Malcolm Brogdon on Why Confederate Monuments Divide (Rolling Stone)
Athletes have always had a significant role when it comes to using their “platform” to address the social issues that they find most important. Jabari Parker is already well-known as an outspoken advocate on a variety of topics, and now teammate Malcolm Brogdon is continuing to make waves following his rookie season.
Brogdon's four years at the University of Virginia provide him with a unique perspective on recent events in his former-college's town, and his opening up to the national media is a heartening sight. We were already fully aware of how well-spoken and observant Malcolm was; now he's bringing that to bear for a much larger audience on supremely important topics.
The NBA Positional Census: Point Guard (The Ringer)
Continuing with Malcolm Brogdon, this time on the court, the Ringer recently took a survey of the league's point guards to find the larger trends affecting that position.
Brogdon made the cut due to his combination of size (6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan), defensive awareness, and cunning when it comes to running a competent NBA offense. He's unique in the NBA for all those reasons, and he's indicative of a league that relies continually less on traditional small guards to coordinate heavy offensive loads.
The analysis of Brogdon as a player is intriguing, as are the takes on Ricky Rubio and Reggie Jackson. A worthwhile read to start your Monday with.
Marquette signs 7-year agreement to bring Golden Eagles basketball to new Milwaukee Bucks arena (Journal Sentinel)
For those Golden Eagle fans worried about where Marquette's basketball teams would play once the BMO Harris Bradley Center comes crashing down, fret no longer.
The terms of the agreement weren't made public, though Marquette's President Michael Lovell stated that the university would be receiving new revenue streams from concession sales and suite rentals that weren't available in the Bradley Center.
While Marquette's non-involvement in the lobbying for a new arena a few summers back remains somewhat contentious, it'll largely be a positive for all parties that the co-tenants of the past thirty years will continue on in the new arena come 2018.
It has been awhile since I graced these virtual pages with a prediction; that's just the nature of a quiet offseason. However, with the above MVP odds, we can finally get into some prognosticating. This time around my season prediction is as follows: Giannis will find himself in the top-four of MVP voting at the end of next year. Bold, you say? Not completely, especially if the media latches onto a unique story waiting to be told to global audiences. A lot depends on how well the Bucks do in the win and loss columns, but don't be surprised if another huge leap is in store.
With all that being said, you should probably be rushing out the door as we speak to get your special set of Eclipse Glasses™ so you can eagerly stare at a potentially blinding solar eclipse. So go, be safe, don't stare at the Sun (as a general rule), and as always: