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Giannis Antetokounmpo: I’m only at ’60 percent of my potential’

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The summer of 2019 has been full of firsts for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He won his first Kia NBA MVP award, released his first signature sneaker with Nike and won his first ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete of the Year.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered an emotional speech after winning his first MVP award.

But despite all of this hoopla, the 24-year-old remains focused on improving his skills on the court.

“A lot of people say, ‘You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant,'” Giannis told ESPN on Saturday. “But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better. If I am in the same situation again [in the East finals], react better, play the game better, play better, execute better.”

Antetokounmpo averaged career-highs with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals over 72 games during the regular season. With Antetokounmpo leading the way, Milwaukee won an NBA-best 60 games and started the playoffs 10-1 before losing four straight games to the Toronto Raptors in the East finals.

The upcoming 2019-20 season will be critical for the Bucks as Antetokounmpo is eligible to sign a super-max extension with the team next summer. Antetokounmpo has been clear that contending for championships is his biggest goal and he sees no reason to do it with a city other than Milwaukee.

“My goal is going to stay the same: It’s get better, take it day by day, step by step, and the ultimate goal is to win a championship,” Antetokounmpo told ESPN. “As long as that we are all on the same page and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years, why not play 25 years? Why not, after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office? But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles. … We got to focus on winning a championship.

“I want to be a part of a winning team,” Antetokounmpo continued. “As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there’s no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not like be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan.”

The city of Milwaukee is honoring Antetokounmpo with a celebration for his MVP award on Sunday. 

The Bucks retained All-Star Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill in free agency this offseason and added Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Thanasis Antetokounmpo — the eldest of the family, who has played professionally in Greece for the past two seasons. 

The loss of Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers likely will hurt the team’s depth. But if Antetokounmpo is only at 60 percent of his potential, then there’s no limit to how good the Bucks can become.



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Spurs promote Buford to CEO; Wright to serve as GM

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spurs Sports & Entertainment has promoted two-time NBA executive of the year RC Buford to chief executive officer, effective Sept. 3.

Buford is credited along with coach Gregg Popovich for building the Spurs into one of the most consistently successful franchises in sports, with five NBA championships since 1999 and 22 consecutive playoff appearances. Popovich is returning this fall for his 24th season.

Buford started his current run with the Spurs in 1994 and has climbed the ranks, including being named general manager in 2002 and his promotion to president of sports franchises in 2008.

The Spurs also said Tuesday that Brian Wright will serve as GM after three years as an assistant and Lori Warren and Bobby Perez have been elevated to executive vice president roles. Longtime executives Rick Pych and Lawrence Payne will transition to advisory roles.

On Monday, the Spurs said former NBA MVP Tim Duncan will join the Spurs as an assistant coach this season.

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Suns sign forward/center Cheick Diallo

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PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns today signed forward/center Cheick Diallo (pronounced Sheck Dee-ALL-oh) to a multiyear contract.

Diallo, 22 years old, has played three NBA seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans and this past season averaged career highs of 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 14.0 minutes while making 62.0% of his field goals. Following the All-Star break in 2018-19, he averaged 8.9 points and 7.6 rebounds on 63.6% shooting from the field and 84.0% from the free throw line with eight double-doubles in 23 games, including a career-high 18 boards plus 16 points on Feb. 22 at Indiana. On a per-36 minute basis, Diallo holds career averages of 15.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

A 6-9, 220-pound forward/center, Diallo also measures a 7-5 wingspan and a 9-0 standing reach. He was originally the 33rd overall selection in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft by the LA Clippers following one season at the University of Kansas. New Orleans acquired Diallo in a draft night trade and he played in 133 regular season games with the Pelicans in addition to seven postseason appearances during the team’s run to the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals.

Born in Kayes, Mali, Diallo began playing basketball at age 13 and moved to the United States as a 15-year-old in 2012 to pursue his career. He attended Our Savior New American High School in Centereach, New York, where he was a national top-ten recruit, two-time New York Gatorade Player of the Year, MVP of the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game and Co-MVP of the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic. Last year, Diallo represented Mali by playing for Team Africa at the NBA Africa Game 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. He is the second player in NBA history to have been born in Mali (Soumaila Samake).

Diallo will wear uniform No. 14 with the Suns. The Suns’ roster now stands at 15 players; an updated roster is attached.

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2020 NBA Free Agents | NBA.com

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Former All-Stars Draymond Green and Anthony Davis could hit the market in the summer of 2020. Who else might join the duo? Scroll down for some of the bigger 2020 names who could be looking for a new team. To view the complete list of current 2019 free agents, go to NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker.

For a refresher on free agency terminology (Unrestricted, Restricted, Player Option and more), check out our Free Agency Explainer page.

Notable Players Who Are Potential 2020 Free Agents

Unrestricted
Kyle Lowry
Draymond Green

Restricted
Jaylen Brown
Brandon Ingram
Pascal Siakam
Domantas Sabonis

Player Option
DeMar DeRozan
Gordon Hayward
Anthony Davis
Andre Drummond

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