Giannis Antetokounmpo and his pending free-agency has been a topic of conversation for some time. Excitement levels for some fans is rising. Whilst Bucks fans may be confident of him extending his time in Milwaukee, there will be some nerves in case he opts to go elsewhere.
The Bucks superstar is set to earn $27,528,090 in the 2020/21 season, before hitting unrestricted free-agency. For this current campaign, he has been averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. On 54.7% shooting from the field.
He has been regarded as a superstar in the NBA for a few years now. But over the past two seasons he has propelled the Bucks into a legitimate title contender. Despite suffering a 4-2 series defeat to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals last time out, many think the Bucks could go all the way this season.
He’s in demand, by front offices and fans. Let’s take a look at three potential locations for the Greek Freak come 2021 free-agency.
Golden State Warriors:
The Antetokounmpo-Golden State Warriors link has been thrown around for quite a while. However, it has been reported via trade.
If Antetokounmpo rejects a contract extension in Milwaukee, the Bucks may panic and opt to move him via trade. In order to get back some value. Instead of losing him for nothing in free-agency.
Preston Ellis of Bleacher Report has recently put together a trade package of Andrew Wiggins, Golden State’s 2020 first-round pick, and 2022 first-round pick. Along with Minnesota’s 2021 first-round pick, which the Warriors own. Will that be enough to acquire Antetokounmpo? Who knows, but that’s one trade package being thrown around.
It appears that the Warriors are desperate to return to glory. If Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can regain consistent health, that could happen. But if they push to, and succeed in acquiring Giannis Antetokounmpo, whether it be via trade or even free-agency, then it’s a certainty. Salary may be an issue, so further pieces may have to be moved on.
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked with superstars for forever, it seems. Each year a star-studded list of names appears in rumours. Now, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The difference is, as opposed to the last five years or so, the Lakers have a superstar core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Davis hasn’t signed long-term, but it’s expected that he will do so this coming off-season. In his peak at 27-years-old, this alone will keep the purple and gold in postseason contention for the foreseeable.
35-year-old LeBron James is under contract next season and then has a player option of $41,000,000 for the 2021-22 season. He may take that extension and finish his career in Los Angeles, or he may be on the move again. But if he takes the extension, along with a maximum contract for Davis, the chances of landing Antetokounmpo to a maximum contract too would be unlikely. Someone would most likely have to take a pay-cut. In order to form a scary-looking super-team that would dominate the NBA.
In addition, the Lakers’ G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, have Kostas Antetokounmpo on their books. The younger brother of Giannis. In February 2020, Giannis was quoted saying it would be “awesome” for his brothers (along with Thanasis), to team-up on the same team. Before stating possible locations as being “Milwaukee, L.A., whatever”.
Rewinding back to July 2018, Antetokounmpo was quoted saying “I like finishing the stuff that I have with Milwaukee. My goal is to win in Milwaukee, bring a championship to the city. … I would never leave for L.A”.
That was coming up to two years ago, so a lot could have changed since then. If the Bucks fail in the postseason again, he may look elsewhere to gain championship glory. But if they go all the way to the NBA Finals, and even win a Championship, odds must be stacked on a Bucks return.
He’s pushed the Bucks to championship contention without a second superstar, so if there were assurances from the front office to acquire further talent, he may stay loyal. Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax this summer, so he may put all the rumours down a year early and commit. The financial incentive is there to do so.
However, players like Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard rejected supermax extensions in the past to take their careers elsewhere. The amount of money a supermax contract would bring may decrease too due to the current COVID-19 suspension. With the NBA salary cap set to take a hit.
But the Giannis Antetokounmpo free-agency rumours will continue to spiral, right up until the summer of 2021 most likely. Only time will tell with this one.