When you are a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player at the peak of your game, what can you possibly do for an encore? Of greater importance, what team will be lucky enough to have your services? In the case of Giannis Antetokounmpo, his future with the Milwaukee Bucks for the coming season and beyond is one of the league’s top storylines.
Hollywood comes calling during Giannis Antetokounmpo’s offseason
Speaking of storylines, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise from growing up in Greece to becoming a first-round draft pick and NBA superstar would make the perfect movie. At least Disney thinks so, as the studio has become developing the idea and even begun casting for the young Giannis role.
Known to most NBA followers as The Greek Freak (because of his rare athletic skills and size), Giannis Antetokounmpo has spent his offseason traveling, spending time with his nine-month-old son Liam Charles, and working with his younger brother Alexis. Alexis Antetokounmpo currently plays for UCAM Murcia, a team in the Spanish professional league. Some believe that Alexis is an even better basketball player than Giannis, but that remains to be seen. The Antetokounmpo family has become somewhat of a basketball factory with five talented athletes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future is up in the air
Giannis Antetokounmpo was named MVP of the somewhat truncated 2019-20 NBA season, and he has one year remaining on his contract with the Bucks. For the upcoming season, which may start as soon as December, Giannis will make a bit north of $27.5 million, but the team in the fourth smallest market in the NBA would love to sign its star to a long-term extension. Sadly, for the Bucks, the $27.5 million salary doesn’t even come close to putting the Greek Freak in the top 10 paid players in the league.
The Bucks are in a position familiar to many teams in pro sports. Do they let their superstar play out the last year of his contract and then see him walk away with nothing in return? The hope here is that Giannis could lead his team to an NBA title, which would lessen the disappointment when he moves on. Another possibility is for the Bucks to pay somewhere between $35 million and $40 million a year for five or more years to keep the 25-year-old forward in Milwaukee. The issue for the ownership, led by hedge fund billionaire Marc Lasry, is the wisdom of such an investment.
Giannis is only one piece of the Bucks puzzle
Milwaukee finished the regular season with a 56-17 record but lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat’s loss pointed out the Bucks roster’s weaknesses, especially the play of Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe, whose strength is defense, lacks the offensive firepower to accompany Giannis’ scoring. Other than Khris Middleton, no other player on the Bucks averaged more than 20 points per game last season, and among the rest of the roster, only Bledsoe and Brook Lopez averaged more than 10 points per game.
The team not only is on the hunt for players to complement their superstar, but they would also hope to do so without breaking the bank or trading such key role players as Donte DiVincenzo or George Hill.
The pressure is on from the top tier of ownership down to coach Mike Budenholzer, especially with the possible improvement of other teams in the NBA Eastern conference, including the New York Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and, potentially, the New York Knicks.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo trade rumors are swirling
With the impact of COVID-19 on the NBA’s 2019-2020 season and the league’s future, there are no firm dates for the start of the 2020-2021 season and the free agent and trading windows opening. The only thing set on the NBA calendar is the November 18 draft.
The uncertain timeframe for the NBA’s wheeling and dealing has not stopped fans and pundits speculating on Giannis’ future. Among those teams mentioned the most in the Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes are Golden State, New York, and the LA Lakers.
Such wishful thinking has come up with some exciting packages. It could include such players as Andrew Wiggins, Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, and three top draft picks for Golden State. Such a deal could consist of star defensive player Draymond Green. At issue would be the NBA only allows one ball in play at a time, and with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Giannis would hardly touch the rock.
Other blockbuster deals could see Giannis traded to the Dallas Mavericks with Kristaps Porzingis as the centerpiece, or the 76ers trading Ben Simmons straight up for the Bucks’ superstar.
The Knicks and Lakers would likely wait until midseason when the Bucks could be more willing to trade Giannis or hold out until the Greek Freak is a free agent after the next season. The Lakers would be the team to beat here as it would offer Antetokounmpo to play alongside LeBron and another one of the younger Antetokounmpo brothers, Kostas. The Lakers picked up Kostas as a free agent before the 2019-20 season.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.