Bucks coach Adrian Griffin anticipates having ‘great partnership’ with Giannis Antetokounmpo

Adrian Griffin Bucks NBA

FILE – New Milwaukee Bucks NBA basketball head coach Adrian Griffin speaks after being introduced at a news conference June 6, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

SAUKVILLE, Wis. — New Milwaukee coach Adrian Griffin says he is looking forward to forming a great partnership with Giannis Antetokounmpo, although the two-time league MVP plans to hold off on signing a contract extension with the team.

Antetokounmpo told The New York Times last month that he wanted to see how committed the Bucks are toward winning another championship before deciding whether to sign a long-term deal to stay in Milwaukee. The two-time MVP also noted the Bucks’ recent coaching change and said he wanted to “see the dynamics” of how everything works with the new staff before making a decision.

“Giannis and I are on the same page,” Griffin said Monday during a golf event benefiting the Milwaukee Bucks Foundation. “We have a great relationship so far. He’s been pleasant to get to know. He wants to win, and I want to win. It’s that simple. I respect him. I respect what he’s accomplished in this league. We’re here together to win. I have no problem with that. I think it’s a great partnership. We’re going to lead the team together. When he leads, the others will follow. I think it’s great.”

Antetokounmpo’s contract runs through the 2024-25 season, with a player option for 2025-26.

Milwaukee Bucks NBA Giannis Antetokounmpo

FILE – Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dribbles the ball during the first half of Game 4 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Miami Heat, Monday, April 24, 2023, in Miami. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has undergone surgery on his left knee during the offseason, but new Milwaukee coach Adrian Griffin says the two-time MVP still should be available during training camp. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

Griffin also said Antetokounmpo and forward Chris Middleton are expected to be ready for the start of training camp Oct. 3 after both underwent knee surgeries during the offseason.

“That’s the plan,” Griffin said. “They’ve been working their butts off in the gym every day and just grinding. I think the most important thing is to just take it day by day. That’s what they’re doing. It’s been terrific.”

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first NBA title in half a century in 2021 but haven’t advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since. The Bucks owned the NBA’s best regular-season record last season but lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

After that stunning playoff loss, the Bucks fired Mike Budenholzer as coach and hired Griffin, who had spent the last five seasons as a Toronto Raptors assistant coach. Griffin said Monday he understands the expectations that come with this job, and he and Antetokounmpo have similar goals.

“We’re aligned,” Griffin said. “We’re here to win. The one thing I talked to my team and our staff about is just embracing expectations. We have a really good roster. Instead of running from it, we want to embrace it.”

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