While the 2020 NBA season hasn’t resumed, free agency speculation never takes a holiday. More often than not, the conversation is focused around Giannis Antetokounmpo; while the Greek Freak won’t be a free agent until next summer, virtually every NBA team is dreaming about potentially adding him to their roster. That, unsurprisingly, includes the Los Angeles Lakers.
If the thought of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo playing together sounds unstoppable, you’re not the only one to come to that conclusion. Ever since July 2019, other NBA teams have been concerned about the Lakers landing the Greek Freak.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s free agency is inching closer
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-20 NBA season will end a bit later than usual. In front offices around the country, however, everyone is waiting for something else: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s potential contract extension.
Once the season officially ends, Antetokounmpo will have one year left on his contract; that means he’ll be eligible to sign a supermax contract extension. If he doesn’t accept the Milwaukee Bucks offer, however, the Greek Freak will become a free agent during the summer of 2021. That’s the scenario that every general manager outside of Wisconsin is dreaming of.
During his time with the Bucks, Giannis has gone from a lanky teenager to a legitimate star, capable of doing just about everything on the court. Given his sheer talent and the star-driven reality of today’s NBA, he would be a dream signing for any team.
The Los Angeles Lakers sent a message to the NBA by signing Kostas Antetokounmpo
In July 2019, the Los Angeles Lakers claimed Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers. While that move hasn’t meant much in an on-court sense—the forward has appeared in three NBA games this season—it did put the rest of the league on high alert.
Kostas, of course, is the youngest of the three Antetokounmpo brothers. While the Lakers insisted they had legitimate basketball reasons for signing him—ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported the team believed he could grow into an effective player—it’s hard to avoid looking at the move in light of Giannis.
On the “Load Management” podcast, Shams Charania of The Athletic confirmed that the rest of the NBA felt similarly. “Now you can look at a bunch of teams [who will be interested in Giannis Antetokounmpo],” he explained, according to Christian Rivas at Silver Screen and Roll. “I’m sure the Warriors, Toronto, the Lakers. You know, the Lakers go and claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off of waivers after he’s cut [in July 2019], I think an antenna went up around the league when that happened.”
The Los Angeles Lakers may have another edge in attracting Giannis Antetokounmpo
Over the past several months, we’ve seen plenty of theories about why Giannis Antetokounmpo would or would not want to live Milwaukee. If he does decide to hit the open market, however, you’d have to think the Lakers have a decent chance of signing him.
While the Greek Freak has spoken about playing with his brothers before, he’ll presumably be more attracted to the Lakers’ overall status as a club. The general belief, which Shams Charania reiterated on “Load Management” is that Giannis wants to win more than anything; it’s hard to imagine a better situation to chase championships than alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
In free agency, however, nothing is ever 100 percent until both parties sign on the dotted line. Even if Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t agree to a supermax deal this offseason, we’ll have to wait until 2021 to see where he ends up.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference