When speaking with a Harvard Business School professor, Giannis Antetokounmpo said his decision to sign a long-term contract with the Milwaukee Bucks will be “a lot more difficult” if the team underperforms this season.

The stakes for the Bucks’ season just got a lot higher.

Giannis’ quote was from a Spring 2019 interview with Anita Elberse, who was researching a case study on the Bucks’ turnaround and the difficulties that come with a small market NBA team trying to keep their star players.

“I want the Bucks to build a winning culture,” Antetokounmpo was quoted as saying in the case study.

“So far, we have been doing great, and if this lasts, there’s no other place I want to be. But if we’re underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult.”

More recently this summer, Antetokounmpo told Ohm Youngmisuk of

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. 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. 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 Bucks remain a potential championship contender this season, but if they fall short of their goals and expectations, questions could start to arise about what Antetokounmpo will do in free agency.