NBA

Are the Lakers Laying the Groundwork to Sign Giannis Antetokounmpo?

The Lakers could be angling to sign the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo when he hits free agency.

Are the Los Angeles Lakers already playing the long game to land another superstar? Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning NBA MVP, but he may not be in a Bucks uniform for much longer. His contract ends in 2021, and every team in the league will be looking to add him to their roster.

The Los Angeles Lakers are already making quiet moves to land Giannis. Let’s look at the subtle moves they made and how likely it is for Antetokounmpo to don the purple and gold.

Signing little bro Kostas Antetokounmpo

The Lakers signed Giannis Antetokounmpo’s younger brother Kostas to a two-way contract. Fans should expect him to play in the G-league for two seasons before he gets a call up to the main roster. 

Kostas Antetokounmnpo turns 22 during the 2019-20 season while his brother Giannis turns 25. Kostas was the last pick in the 2018 NBA draft and played in two games for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2018-19 season. Would the possibility of playing with his little brother entice Giannis Antetokounmpo to leave Milwaukee for Los Angeles? Time will tell.

The Lakers also added Jason Kidd to the coaching staff during the 2019 offseason. Kidd coached Giannis Antetokounmpo for three-plus seasons in Milwaukee before Mike Budenholzer took over.

Trading for Anthony Davis

When the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, they signaled to LeBron James that the team was in win-now mode after missing the playoffs last season. Davis is a top-five talent and could be an MVP candidate if he stays healthy this season. Davis averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds per game last year for the Pelicans, and the Lakers should be back in the mix for the NBA championship this season. Eventually adding Giannis to the mix would make them heavy favorites to win a title.

How dynamic could a lineup involving all three of them be?

The Lakers could be angling to sign the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo when he hits free agency.
The Lakers could be angling to sign the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo when he hits free agency. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

A lineup with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Davis, and James could be one of the hardest to defend in the entire NBA. LeBron is one of the best passers the game has ever seen. Combining him with Giannis’ athleticism could make the wing positions very hard for defenses to slow down.

When you add Anthony Davis, the pick and roll combinations could cause teams fits. We strongly believe that the playoffs are all about stars taking over in a seven-game series, and there aren’t that many teams that could match up with three of the game’s 10 best players.

Should he stay in Milwaukee?

The big question for the next couple of seasons is whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo should stay in such a small market. He and his family love the city, but will the Bucks be able to continue their dominance in the East?

Boston and Philadelphia are both better on paper than they were last year. When you also add in the Brooklyn Nets, who should have Kevin Durant back healthy by 2020, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Milwaukee could be the number four or five in the East playoffs.

We think he would be smart to not only go to a bigger market for financial purposes but with a team that also has a legitimate shot at winning the title. The Bucks were exposed on offense once Toronto clamped down against Giannis, and we think the Sixers and Celtics can do the same thing in a playoff matchup.

What other teams can sign him?

Besides the Lakers, the teams we think have the best shot of signing Giannis are the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. 

Miami will look to pair another star with Jim Butler, but we think by then Butler will have worn out his welcome in South Beach and could be on the trading block. If he can keep things together, Miami could have a formidable one-two punch capable of taking games over in an Eastern Conference playoff series. The Knicks are always in the discussion to sign marquee free agents, even if they sometimes miss badly.