The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo was training briefly with the Greek national team when he reported to his NBA team that he was experiencing knee pain, an injury that will keep him out of the European championship.
The Bucks agreed with their medical staff’s recommendation for Antetokounmpo not to play, general manager Jon Horst said. The All-Star forward reported to the Bucks that he was having right anterior knee pain following certain movements.
Antetokounmpo is scheduled to return to Milwaukee this week to begin daily treatment and rehab to be ready for Bucks’ training camp, which begins in roughly five weeks.
Greece’s basketball federation on Saturday accused the Bucks and the NBA of hatching a plan to prevent Antetokounmpo from playing in the European championship. It was responding to a social media post from the player in which he said he was unavailable because of the knee injury.
The NBA also denied allegation, saying that the league and Bucks followed “all appropriate protocol under the NBA-FIBA agreement.”
Horst, in a statement released early Sunday, said the Bucks contacted the Greek national team after Antetokounmpo reported the injury and they requested that the forward stop on-court running and jumping for a period to rest. The Bucks’ team physician spoke with his counterpart on the Greek national team and Antetokounmpo continued to sit.
Bucks strength and conditioning coach Suki Hobson then put Antetokounmpo through a series of exercises to evaluate the knee while in China, where the player traveled recently for an appearance. Hobson reported that Antetokounmpo was still “experiencing significant pain on basic movements,” the Bucks said, and it was at that point that the team doctor recommended that Antetokounmpo return to Milwaukee for more evaluation and rehab.
“While he is very disappointed that he will not be competing for his national team at this time, we agree with our medical staff’s recommendation and feel this is in Giannis’ best interest,” Horst said.
Antetokounmpo averaged 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 2016-17, leading the Bucks to a second playoff appearance in three seasons. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
The Bucks signed Antetokounmpo to a four-year, $100 million contract extension last September. [AP]