If the NBA season is unable to resume in the months ahead, what would a canceled season mean for the Milwaukee Bucks as a franchise?
It’s essentially the NBA’s doomsday scenario, and would have seemed close to unthinkable in any other situation, but there’s no doubting at this point that the world is itself in times that are very far from ordinary.
The NBA may have every intention of resuming the current 2019-20 season whenever the novel coronavirus pandemic has subsided to a point where it is safe to do so, but what would happen if that proves to be unfeasible and the season ultimately ends up canceled?
That is undoubtedly a question that fans around the NBA will need to consider in the weeks and months ahead, and it’s one that may well play on the minds of Milwaukee Bucks fans more than most.
Of course, it goes without saying that sport isn’t going to be anyone’s top priority during the ongoing fight against COVID-19, but the fact remains that eventually society will come out the other side of its current challenges, and will seek to find some sense of normal life resuming.
That may prove to be impossible against the changing landscape that could be left behind, but even if that means new normals will need to be established, how could that impact the NBA?
If the current season wasn’t to be completed, there’s no question the Bucks would be the franchise who would feel the impact more than any other.
They own the best record in the league with the season currently suspended, are in the process of putting together an all-time campaign, and certainly the franchise’s very best since they won their sole championship back in 1971.
That last element is particularly pertinent too. For a franchise that has been starved of success, and a city more generally, this seemed like a great opportunity to finally have that ultimate moment of catharsis, and a season with real potential to lead to long-awaited parade planning.
Of course, the Bucks’ roster is not necessarily in a now or never pattern where it could all count for nothing if this season wasn’t to prove to be the return to that ultimate glory, but in the NBA it’s often true that teams don’t actually just how close they are to those kind of junctures.
One obvious factor that could bring that kind of urgency to a head for the Bucks, and sooner rather than later, is the future of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
A strong finish to this campaign, ending in a trip to the Finals or a championship, would almost certainly have led to Antetokounmpo signing a supermax extension to remain in Milwaukee for years to come. But what happens if the Bucks are robbed of that opportunity?
The truth is that could prove to be a good or a bad thing.
Perhaps Antetokounmpo has seen enough since Mike Budenholzer has come in that knowing the position of strength the Bucks would have been in going into the postseason will be enough for him to sign on the dotted line. On the other hand, if there are any doubts lingering in his mind based on how things unraveled in the Conference Finals in 2018-19, it’s possible that not getting the chance to see the Bucks banish those demons could manifest into a concern that’s significant enough for him to consider his options elsewhere.
Recent events have given way to so much uncertainty, but in an NBA context the Bucks must be feeling that more than most.
This season was shaping up to be the ultimate moment of celebration that has been almost 50 years in the making, and now thanks to a quirk of fate, and a force majeure of sorts, that could yet be stolen away from them.
There are very obviously much bigger concerns in the immediate future, but how the coming months shake out could yet prove to be a defining moment in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks.