Could the Toronto Raptors Really Land Giannis Antetokounmpo in NBA Free Agency?
The NBA, more than any other league, is driven by stars. While certain NHL, NFL, or MLB players might have outrageous levels of talent, they can’t take over a game and shape a franchise in the same way that a basketball player can. Just look at how Giannis Antetokounmpo, for example, changed the course of the entire Milwaukee Bucks organization.
Antetokounmpo will be a free agent following the 2020-21 NBA season, however. If he does leave Milwaukee to change another franchise, there’s one particular city that could appeal to the Greek Freak.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s time with the Bucks
After playing one professional season in Greece, Giannis Antetokounmpo made the leap to North America. The Milwaukee Bucks snagged him with the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA draft; while they still struggled in the following season, Giannis showed that he belonged.
After averaging just under seven points per game in his first NBA season, Antetokounmpo started to blossom. His scoring increased to 12 points per game, then nearly 17. He learned to harness his freakish blend of size and athleticism, becoming an unguardable force around the basket. Last season, he averaged 27.7 points per game, along with 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists each night. If he can add an outside shot to his game—and he’s been working on exactly that—there’s no telling how good he can be.
After next season, the Greek Freak will become a free agent. While he’s never called an American city other than Miluwakee home, there’s a chance he could leave the Midwest for greener pastures.
Giannis’ free agency drama
While Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t hit free agency until 2021, he’s the next major target for every NBA general manager. No major stars will be hitting the market this summer, and the Greek Freak would improve anyone’s roster.
Bucks fans started to panic in October when quotes from Antetokounmpo emerged as part of a Harvard study about the success of small-market teams. The forward apparently said that he would consider leaving the Bucks is they were “underperforming;” Giannis, however, would deny he ever said anything of that nature.
Antetokounmpo has previously spoken about the possibility of remaining in Milwaukee for decades, but professional sports is a fickle thing. If the right offer arrives, or another star wants to form a dynamic duo, any player could be tempted.
Could Giannis Antetokounmpo become a Toronto Raptor?
While virtually every team in the NBA would be interested in Giannis Antetokounmpo, chatter has been building about one specific landing place. Could the Greek Freak move north of the border and take his talents to Toronto?
The Bucks will surely offer Antetokounmpo a max contract next summer, and it’s unlikely that the forward will leave the only North American city he’s ever known, but Toronto could hold some appeal for him. While American players can be hesitant to uproot their lives and move to another country, Giannis has already done that. As an international player, Antetokounmpo could embrace the chance to live in another country besides the United States.
As for the Raptors themselves, they will have the cap space to compete for Antetokounmpo or any other free agent. While it would be a tough sell to convince Giannis to move away from Milwaukee, the prospect of playing in a global city with another young, international star in Pascal Siakam could be what it takes.
Either way, expect to hear plenty of chatter for the next couple of seasons. Until Giannis Antetokounmpo signs, this story isn’t going anywhere.