NBA rumors: Giannis Antetokounmpo: Los Angeles is not for me

But with the Bucks ousted from the playoffs early, Giannis Antetokounmpo is in fact on a visit to sunny California. Perhaps the less punishing weather and vibrant nightlife will help sway him to an eventual move to LA? Given his recent comments on the city, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case. “This city is not for me,” said the Bucks star about Los Angeles.

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But what could have caused such a definitive proclamation from the Greek Freak? Restaurant prices, apparently. Giannis was caught for an ambush interview as he and his family were leaving Catch restaurant in LA on Wednesday. While the Bucks star admitted he did enjoy the meal, he quickly quipped that the final tally on his bill was not to his liking. “It was incredible. Expensive, expensive. This city is not for me,” said Giannis after his meal at Catch LA.
At the mere mention of another decade of basketball though, Antetokounmpo interjected. “No, I want to play 20 years,” Antetokounmpo said, repeating one of his goals. “Hopefully, I can play all 20 of those years with the Bucks. “But we’ll see, I can’t predict the future, but that (pointing to the list), that’s a compliment. Being (No.) 24 and I just turned 27. That’s all my hard work that has paid off. But I gotta — we just lost — I gotta keep going. I gotta keep improving as a player. I gotta keep enjoying the game. Gotta stay in the moment, live in the moment and where it’s going to end up when I’m done with it and I’m done with the league and out of the league, who knows. “That’s a compliment. I can take that right there and talk about it, show it to my kids.”
In the end Giannis decided to stay in Milwaukee because it was difficult. And then, improbably, the Bucks won. “One challenge was to bring a championship here and we did,” he told me. “It was very hard, but we did. Very, very hard. I just love challenges. What’s the next challenge? The next challenge might not be here.” It’s not that he doesn’t love Milwaukee, he said. But he was always wary of things becoming too easy. “Me and my family chose to stay in this city that we all love and has taken care of us—for now,” Giannis said. “In two years, that might change. I’m being totally honest with you. I’m always honest. I love this city. I love this community. I want to help as much as possible.”
“I don’t think it’s, ‘I’m thinking about leaving the Bucks,’ ” Saratsis told me. “But I think he’s genuinely like: ‘Okay, I have reached the pinnacle. The next challenge is, let’s repeat.’ But what happens if you do repeat? What’s the next challenge? What is that next barrier? When you think about it from a basketball perspective, by the age of 26, this kid has accomplished everything,” Saratsis said. “So sometimes you’re going to have to manufacture what those challenges are.”
Saratsis wanted Antetokounmpo to go to bed some nights believing he was delaying a decision until summer, then see how he felt in the morning about it. Other nights, the top five NBA player should go to bed believing he was signing the extension, then see how he felt in the morning. Peace of mind over money. Serenity over settling. “There was nothing we were going to go to the Bucks with and they were going to say no,” says Saratsis. “It’s not just a business decision, it’s an emotional decision. Yeah, things can change and we can ask for a trade if you want to, but for all intents and purposes this is the next few years of your career, in the prime of your career, and I want you to be happy.”
"The challenge for the Bucks is just selling him on winning," said Wojnarowski. "I know this about Giannis: his decision is not about wanting to be in a big market and have all the trimmings that come with Los Angeles or New York or wherever it is. I don't think that's part of his decision making. I think at his core he's immensely loyal. I believe he loves the people in Milwaukee. Loves that community. He loves the organization. But he wants to win and that's what he's weighing."

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What’s curious about this footage is that it was not central to the storytelling. It was used to introduce general manager Bobby Webster, who surely needs no introduction after being with the franchise for seven seasons. The scene that follows shows a vignette of Webster cheekily opening his own coffee shop called “Cafe 416” in which he served members of the Raptors using his personal espresso machine.
If the Los Angeles Lakers still have designs on adding Giannis Antetokounmpo to a core of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, that longest of long shots got even longer with news that James will sign a two-year extension and Davis intends to sign for five years, per ESPN.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, James' new deal with the Lakers will run through 2022-23. So much for the notion that James might take a $10-15 million discount next offseason to make room for Antetokounmpo. James may have taken a haircut to join the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, but history will not repeat.
Does the Lakers' Dream of Giannis Die? Probably. The Lakers chasing cap room in 2021 was always specious. The team petitioned the league to get Luol Deng's dead $10 million off its books, but to no avail. The Lakers opted not to stretch the waived contracts of Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell, saving an extra $526,687 of potential cap space next summer.
Instead, their combined $1.6 million in waived salary will prevent the Lakers from signing a 15th player to start the season (the team is hard-capped at $138.9 million after using its non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Harrell). It's a short-term problem that will resolve itself in a few months. As the price of a minimum contract prorates downward daily, that last spot may be used to add another player on the buyout market months down the road.
Beyond asking too much of Davis, it would likely mean the Lakers part ways with Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Harrell, Caldwell-Pope, Schroder and just about everyone else on the roster. Of course, if the Bucks were willing to trade Antetokounmpo for Kuzma, Caruso, Harrell, Caldwell-Pope, Schroder and just about everyone else on the roster, they might have a deal. If L.A. has any faint hope, it's that Antetokounmpo demands a trade...to the Lakers. Given the Lakers’ dearth of tradeable future first-round picks (most tied up with the New Orleans Pelicans in the deal that brought in Davis), the Bucks would obviously do everything they can to get their star to re-sign. But failing that, the Lakers may not be atop their priority list if they did decide to move Antetokounmpo.
Will The Greek Freak fit the Miami Heat? “He would,” Milwaukee Bucks legend Michael Redd told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show. “He would. They got the shooters. They got the closer in Jimmy Butler. But I think Khris could be that as Giannis continues to develop, maybe the offense is more Khris-centric in a sense because we saw what Khris can do from a closing standpoint and a playmaking standpoint. So Khris can be Jimmy and Jon Horst will continue to do a great job of putting shooters around Giannis. There’s parallels there. The culture of Miami is different than Milwaukee but, he could fit in Miami for sure. It’s going to be tougher with that Brooklyn Nets team coming next year. Hopefully it’ll be without KD’s injury, which is everything. His recovery is everything to that team but, the East is going to be tough next year again, so we’ll see how everything turns out.”
Antetokounmpo and Adebayo share the same agent, Octagon’s Alex Saratsis, which has led some to question whether Adebayo’s extension getting done now signals Antetokounmpo will ultimately sign an extension with the Bucks too. “I think they are totally separate decisions,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “If Giannis wants to go to Miami, he will find a way to get to Miami. I think, if anything, they want to keep that agent happy, and if he wants Bam extended, you do it. Miami has always been creative in finding ways to get things done. The bottom line is you have to do right by your players first. He’s not in a position to risk injury and could affect how he feels about the team long-term if they do not take care of him now.”
How does Milwaukee feel now? Brian Windhorst of ESPN: "Internally, league sources said, the Bucks have gone from cautiously optimistic to cautiously confident in recent weeks that the outcome will be favorable when Antetokounmpo returns from Greece, where he has been since mid-September."
Marc Stein: NBA free agency officially starts tonight at 6 PM ET, which is also when the Bucks can formally offer Giannis Antetokounmpo a five-year supermax contract extension worth $230 million. The window to sign it closes Dec. 21
NBA Central: "He wants to play for the Bucks. He’s been in contact with Giannis Antetokounmpo." - Brian Windhorst on Bogdan Bogdanović (Via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/zZTDYhpNpt
The Milwaukee Bucks are confident Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign the supermax contract extension this offseason. "The Bucks are operating with, what's the correct verb?" said Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective Podcast on Tuesday evening. "You're asking me for a verb? You're asking me to name a verb?" replied Zach Lowe.
"What's the correct verb for the way the Bucks are operating? They're operating under the belief Giannis is going to re-sign. It is not 100 percent, but they don't do these deals unless they feel really good about it. They feel better about it now than they did before. I think some people feel like these deals are being done to woo Giannis. I don't think that's happening, Zach. I think the Bucks are operating with knowledge. They're doing these [deals] knowing that these players they're acquiring for the foreseeable future with Giannis alongside them. Whether or not that's a mistake, we'll see. But I think there's a lot of excitement in Milwaukee. And I think there's a lot of excitement within the Giannis group right now. I think the momentum will continue."
HoopsHype spoke with severalexecutives and an NBA scout to get their thoughts on what the moves mean for Milwaukee’s future. “I applaud them,” an NBA scouttold HoopsHype. “Perfect reasoning for Giannis to want to re-sign. They had to, honestly. They’ve got to win now.”
After taking a step back and losing in the Conference Semifinals and Antetokounmpo entering a contract season, Bucks general manager Jon Horst acted swiftly. “I think they must have had an indication that Giannis was staying since they gave up two unprotected firsts,” one Eastern Conferenceexecutive told HoopsHype.
“I thought they were solid moves but did give up a lot in the Holiday trade,” another Eastern Conferenceexecutive told HoopsHype. “I hope they have a commitment from Giannis to stay long term. Not sure Giannis commits this offseason or if he waits to see how things play out. The deal will be available at the end of the season, so better to have the ability to apply pressure to the front office by not signing until later.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo will be offered the supermax extension by the Milwaukee Bucks at the start of free agency, which could be the most impactful NBA storyline both this offseason and for 2021. "I wonder how Giannis feels as he's looking at this right now, you know, what he's thinking about," said Brian Windhorst in a podcast recorded before the Holiday trade. "Because he has about a month to decide on his supermax. I think he's going to decide a lot of sooner. And I think there's a lot of warmth in Milwaukee right now. I'll just leave it at that."
With speculation rife Antetokounmpo is considering linking with Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat once his Bucks contract expires at the end of the upcoming season, or potentially earlier if traded, Kyrgios has added fuel to the fire after providing an insight into his recent exchange with the "Greek Freak". "I just asked him a bunch of questions," Kyrgios told The Herald. "I asked him straight away if he was going to go and join Miami and then he had a massive smile on his face. Maybe that could be brewing."
NBA Central: "I just asked him straight away if he was going to go join Miami, and then he had a massive smile on his face." - Nick Kyrgios on Giannis Antetokounmpo (h/t @hoopsview ) pic.twitter.com/aWoLATWEBY

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While there, he happened to give an exclusive interview to Swedish outlet Aftonbladet, a daily newspaper based in Stockholm. Of course, he was asked about his future with the Milwaukee Bucks, and had this to say (hat tip to Swedish journalist Alexander Nilsson): Giannis: "There are a lot of rumors. Everyone has opinions. But at the end of the day, I will do what is best for my family. I do not see why I could not be in Milwaukee for several years. As long as Milwaukee and I are on the same page when it comes to being one of the best teams in the league and winning championships, that's fine. When it changes, it will not be good. It's easy, I want to be a winner. I do not care about the money. My family is fine and I can take care of my children and grandchildren so that's not the most important thing right now, it's winning. As long as we can win and create a winning culture, it will be good."
Aftonbladet: So your plan is to stay in Milwaukee next year and then maybe sign an extension? Giannis: "I do not know what the plan is. It depends on what decisions they make. If they make the right decision, I'll be there for many years. If they do not, we'll see. The NBA is business and we take it day by day. Hopefully we can succeed together."
Albert Nahmad: If Heat want to be assured to be able to keep core + retain a Giannis-sized max salary slot for 2021: 🔥 They can’t extend Bam, and 🔥 Any long-term salary they take on (in free agency or trade) needs to be for a player: (x) who's tradable, or (y) who fits into excess cap room
Many within the Bucks remain confident Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign a five-year supermax extension valued at between $220 million and $250 million (depending on the cap level) before the start of the 2020-21 regular season. Unless something drastic changes, Milwaukee is not trading him. If Antetokounmpo doesn't sign, the Bucks are prepared to play it out, sources have said.
Miami has interest in re-signing Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, but the Heat won't do anything that jeopardizes their chances with Antetokounmpo. (The list of such things might include asking Bam Adebayo to wait until next offseason to sign his new contract -- a way of maximizing cap space for Antetokounmpo. Adebayo and Antetokounmpo share an agent -- Alex Saratsis of Octagon. This is tricky stuff, but I assume everyone will communicate what they need to communicate.)
While Antetokounmpo expressed respect for the Heat, there has been nothing tangible to suggest any specific interest in playing here, putting Miami on par with potentially Dallas, Toronto and a few others if he decides to leave Milwaukee. At the very least, his respect for Bam Adebayo (they share the same agent) and the Heat’s cache would very likely earn a meeting in 2021 if he bypasses a Bucks extension this summer.
There is also a question of how management will handle things if Antetokounmpo turns down the Designated Veteran extension, whatever the rationale. It appears they intend to keep him around no matter what, and that is the best approach considering there is almost no chance the Bucks recoup equal value in a trade and he could easily commit next offseason on the same terms or a shorter contract. While not signing an extension would send shockwaves through the league and get rival general managers and fans salivating, it is absolutely possible, if not probable, that the 25-year old stays in Milwaukee beyond the coming season.
Chris Bosh on the possibility of Giannis Antetokounmpo signing with the Heat: Yeah, that'd be pretty good. But I mean, yeah, it's tough, man. I mean, they've had a crack at it. They were right there. They'll have another opportunity next year. But that'd be devastating and painful for him in the city, if they don't even at least make it to the Finals. I mean, in being in that position, you know, what do you do? Let's be frank. I mean, I don't really see a big time free agent, saying, ‘I'm going to Milwaukee’. Um, and that's what makes it so tough sometimes. And they've done it the right way they've built around him. It'll be really tough, man. And, and the allure of the game, it's gonna be so many people coming after him.
Multiple sources have emphatically said Milwaukee will not look to trade Antetokounmpo if he passes on the extension. Instead, the Bucks will try to improve their roster and use the next year to show Antetokounmpo why he should stay. Waiting would give Antetokounmpo maximum leverage over Milwaukee over the next 12 months. If the Bucks are willing to add to their payroll to improve the team -- something ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported they are -- Milwaukee could chase a significant upgrade in trades (despite being short on prime assets).
Rival teams are monitoring Adebayo’s extension situation and the aftereffects if Miami bypasses extending their superstar big man. Miami is preparing to go all in on the pursuit of Milwaukee’s two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 free agency, sources said. There is a school of thought that salary-wise, waiting on Adebayo’s extension would allow for as much space as possible for 2021. But given Adebayo’s presence, leadership and meaning to the Heat franchise, this is a straight-forward conversation between team executives and Adebayo’s agent, Alex Saratsis: A max extension this offseason or not.
Jackson: "I hope he leaves too. Go to Golden State." Iverson: "That's where I want him to go -- Golden State! Barnes: "It would be ugly." Iverson: "Yes. Yes. I would love him to go there. That's where I want him to go. I want him to go to Golden State man."
"As long as everybody's on the same page and as long as everybody's fighting for the same thing, fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion," he said, "I don't see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years."
Eric Woodyard: Giannis says he left the meeting “encouraged” with Bucks owners. Says they’re on “the same page” right now. Wouldn’t get into details though. He’s currently in Greece with family.
On Saturday, Lasry joined Antetokounmpo at the star’s home in River Hills, a suburb 15 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee. Lasry’s son and Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry participated in the conversation, as did Antetokounmpo’s older brother Thanasis and their agent Alex Saratsis, league sources tell The Athletic. Yahoo! Sports first reported that the meeting took place.
NBA Central: Vince Carter doesn’t see Giannis leaving Milwaukee "He’s good enough to where guys want to come play with him." (🎥 @GetUpESPN ) pic.twitter.com/jjjPsWuB4P

http://twitter.com/TheNBACentral/status/1305888048551526402
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo's 3-hour lunch with Bucks co-owner/governor Marc Lasry on Friday covered the season, how Bucks can improve roster, Lasry confirming willingness to spend into luxury tax and agreement they’ll talk again after Giannis returns from a vacation.
The Bucks payroll will be close to the proposed $132.7 million luxury tax threshold for 2020-21. Lasry and Antetokounmpo discussed the Bucks' season and disappointing finish and brainstormed on some personnel upgrades that could be available to the franchise in the offseason, sources said.
They are expected to talk further soon once Antetokounmpo returns from a vacation, sources said. Antetokounmpo has a decision to make in the offseason on whether he will sign an extension with Milwaukee or enter the 2020-21 season in the final year of his contract and eligible for free agency in 2021.
Gozlan: “From Giannis’ perspective, if he doesn’t take the supermax, two things: One, if he’s really interested in signing a supermax and wants the long-term security, wants the money, I think he would want it, but what could be holding him back could be what the salary cap is going to be. We still haven’t gotten any guidance from the NBA. The recent cap projection was $115 million. The following year was $125 million. Now, it could end up being the same salary cap figure for the next two years. If it were to be much lower and closer to what it is now, even less, then I would imagine Giannis would want to hold back on signing the supermax because that’s a lot less money to lock down versus what he was expected to get earlier. Under the $125 million salary cap, he was going to get around $250 million over five years. If it’s going to stick closer to the current $109 million salary cap or lower, he’s looking at closer to $210 or $220 million. That’s a big difference right there.”
Gozlan: “The interesting thing about how the Heat positioned themselves is that they’ll have a maximum contract slot for 2021, but they’ll also still be able to re-sign Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn while still having Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro still on the roster. Robinson and Nunn have minimum free agent cap holds. They can just keep their Bird Rights, and it won’t cost them anything or take away their max cap space. Bam, who I think is an unbelievable talent and the modern center of what centers will be over the next decade, he deserves a max contract or close to it. Unfortunately, the Heat are not likely to give him the extension now just because then they would lose that cap flexibility to sign Giannis later in 2021. But with the way they positioned themselves, they can hold off on the extension, sign Giannis and then re-sign all those guys I was talking about, including Bam.”
Milwaukee will offer Antetokounmpo the five-year super-maximum as soon as free agency begins this offseason, sources said. Should the salary cap remain at the projected $115 million, the super max would be worth five years and $233.45 million. For a salary cap of $109 million — the 2019 offseason figure — the deal would be worth five years and $221.27 million.
Maybe someday Giannis will have to leave in order to win a title, but for now, league sources consider the Bucks the clear favorite for Giannis in 2021. Still, teams will chase him. The Heat are setting up to make a splash in 2021, whether it’s Giannis or another top free agent. Golden State, Toronto, and Dallas hope to make runs at Antetokounmpo too, league sources say.
The truth is that Giannis can choose from all 30 teams, because every one would move whatever salaries necessary to create the cap space for him. Or, as Jimmy Butler’s move to Miami last summer showed, a sign-and-trade can be worked out. Take the Clippers, for example: Multiple league sources have recently said the Clippers plan to pursue a deal for Giannis. One of the sources said Giannis has an “admiration” for Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
Dave Briggs: Will Giannis leave the Milwaukee? I asked Bucks owner Marc Lasry the biggest question in hoops at his CT home. He told me, “I don’t think he’s leaving Milwaukee, we’ve done everything we can to make Giannis feel comfortable that we’re doing the right thing.”
Antetokounmpo can sign a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks this offseason and will be a free agent in 2021 if he doesn't. "I don't know," replied Zach Lowe. "The vibe everybody gets from Giannis, and this is all second, third-hand whatever... is that he probably would like to stay. I think he likes Milwaukee. He met his partner in Milwaukee. He has a son now in Milwaukee. I think he likes being the best player on a team and having it be his team. It's clearly his team. But I think the case for the Bucks all along, and I think they would be honest about this if you asked them about it, the case for them all along has been winning. Winning championships. The ability to win championships. That's the case for almost every star player."
It is at least Dallas Mavericks dream. And one NBA analyst suggests Giannis Antetokounmpo joining forces with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis by landing with the Dallas Mavericks might be a tad more realistic than that. “Of all the (stars), I think he would (consider leaving an existing team to come to Dallas),” said NBA analyst Brian Scalabrine in a Tuesday visit with 105.3 The Fan’s “K&C Masterpiece.” “To leave a team, that's a hard thing to do, especially if you're a guy like him. Just think about Dirk Nowitzki. He was Dallas all the way, (and) it seems like Giannis is all the way (with Milwaukee). “But,” Scalabrine continued. “I think you (Dallas) have just as good a chance as anyone else. ... Los Angeles, Miami, or any of the other favorite teams. I think the Dallas Mavericks, you look at their cap situation, with a superstar (in Luka Doncic) and (Kristaps Porzingis). ... I'm telling you right now it's not zero (chance)."
Conventional wisdom keeps “The Greek Freak” in Milwaukee, of course. But Scalabrine paints a picture “that if (the Bucks) lose to Miami (in these NBA Playoffs) ... they offer him a Super-Max (a five-year max contract extension) ... (and) he turns it down, it does open up the possibility. I'm not thinking there's no chance, I know a lot of people would say that. I think there is a chance that he could end up (in Dallas).”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and favorite to repeat, is atop everyone’s list, even though the Milwaukee Bucks star has routinely shot down questions about hitting unrestricted free agency following the 2020-21 season, when his four-year, $100 million deal expires. “I think he’s focused on winning right now and he wants to win it all, not just get to the Finals,” a league source said. “But it won’t stop people from reaching out.”
Even with his upcoming supermax decision full of uncertainty, with the new realities of the league in effect following the pandemic, Milwaukee's front office isn't worried about opposing players trying to potentially recruit him. "Zero. We can only control what we can control. If it's considered tampering or recruiting or whatever it is, in our league people talk, people are connected, people have relationships," said Bucks GM Jon Horst. "At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league's relationship, our coach's relationship, his teammate's relationship with Giannis in what we're doing and what we're about.
The chatter began with The Athletic’s Shams Charania noting the Heat’s interest in adding both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo — the two players that I had identified a week earlier as Miami’s most likely targets in 2021 free agency. And now comes a Wednesday report from the Indianapolis Star that “despite rampant speculation that he could end up with the Knicks (he fired Leon Rose of CAA, then his agent who is now president of the franchise), the strongest preliminary indication is Miami” as his next team.
“He’s a Hall of Fame player and young innovative coach who learned from his past mistakes,’’ said one personnel man familiar with the Knicks’ interest. “I think the Knicks’ young players would relate to him. Whether a factor for Giannis, wherever [Kidd] goes to coach, that team most definitely will have a seat at that dinner table when the time comes.”
One word to the wise for the Bucks, though: Considering the Bucks are sharing “The Gran Destino Tower” with the Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz and Heat, they may want to keep an eye out for rival executives who will have every opportunity to wander his way. As our Ethan Strauss wrote recently, the “Tamperpalooza” threat will be real in this AAU-style setting.
One word to the wise for the Bucks, though: Considering the Bucks are sharing “The Gran Destino Tower” with the Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz and Heat, they may want to keep an eye out for rival executives who will have every opportunity to wander his way. As our Ethan Strauss wrote recently, the “Tamperpalooza” threat will be real in this AAU-style setting.
Steve Popper: Sources close to Kidd have said that he would have interest in this job (he played for Dolan and Knicks in last successful season for NY) - and some teams interested in Kidd think that he could provide a link to the prize of next year's free agent class, Giannis.
Milwaukee is still considered likely to keep Antetokounmpo long term, but insiders cited the potential of the salary cap dropping both this offseason and in future years as a reason Giannis might take a wait-and-see approach. Still, the overriding belief is that whatever happens on the court will play the biggest role in his decision. "I always have said: Ask me once he has to make a decision," one Eastern Conference scout said. "It all comes down to timing. So many things can change. "If they win it all, if they come through this and do that? There's no way he's leaving."
Milwaukee is still considered likely to keep Antetokounmpo long term, but insiders cited the potential of the salary cap dropping both this offseason and in future years as a reason Giannis might take a wait-and-see approach. Still, the overriding belief is that whatever happens on the court will play the biggest role in his decision. "I always have said: Ask me once he has to make a decision," one Eastern Conference scout said. "It all comes down to timing. So many things can change. "If they win it all, if they come through this and do that? There's no way he's leaving."
The season’s potential cancellation will most hurt Milwaukee, which had a league-best 53-12 unit that many experts felt had the momentum to win the championship. Antetokounmpo seems to want to stay in Milwaukee when he becomes a 2021 free agent, but only if the Bucks stand as a title contender. Sources indicate the pandemic has changed things so drastically, it’s hard to pinpoint Antetokounmpo’s future plans.
It’s why, four years after the Durant coup, this Giannis to the Warriors noise remains at an incessant murmur, despite how truly impractical it is in reality. This is nothing like the Durant situation. Those dominoes lined up perfectly. These dominoes, linking Giannis and the aged, expensive Warriors, have lined up terribly. Context matters. Let’s look at the three large-scope reasons why the two circumstances are so different and why any longshot pursuit for Giannis is far more difficult.
Durant had turned 27 by the time he hosted his free-agency meetings in the Hamptons. Steph Curry, born five months after Durant, was 28. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were 26. It was a young, established core pitching a peer of a similar age. Come to us and let’s all plow through the league during our collective primes. That’s what drew Durant. If Giannis hits the market next summer, he will be 26. Curry — a friendly acquaintance, considered by those in the know as the dominant reason Giannis’ eyes would even tilt in the Warriors’ direction — will be 33. Thompson, currently in the late stages of his ACL rehab, and Green, showing early signs of a physical decline, will both be 31.
In Durant’s first season with the Warriors, Curry was the 82nd highest-paid player in the NBA. It was the final year of that well-timed (or ill-timed, if you’re Curry) rookie extension signed back in 2012. He was on the books for only $12.1 million, slightly more than Nikola Peković, slightly less than Marvin Williams. It’s very beneficial when your best player is paid like a fringe starter. It’s also helpful when your second- and third-best players, both All-Stars, are under market value. Thompson earned $16.6 million that season. Green earned $15.3 million. Neither were among the 40 highest-paid players in the league. That (along with the cap spike, which we’ll discuss shortly) laid a pristine route for Durant’s $26.5 million contract to fit snugly under the cap restrictions.
Circumstances would be quite different if Giannis reached free agency and wanted to sign with the Warriors. In the first season of what will be Giannis’ next contract, Curry is set to make $45.8 million, an NBA record (breaking the record he’ll set the season prior). Thompson is on the books for $37.9 million. Green is on the books for $24 million. Combined between the three: $107.8 million. Add in Andrew Wiggins, making $31.6 million, and that’s $139.4 million combined between four players. The projected salary cap for that season, delivered before this financially-crushing pandemic hit, was $125 million. So, no, unlike Durant, there’s no way that Giannis (and his next max contract, projected to begin at $37.5 million) can sign with the Warriors outright.
But in truth, all of the above should be on the table even if Antetokounmpo signs the extension because the Bucks are in win-now mode. But with an extension, they can make moves with the luxury of knowing they have a six-year window rather than a one-year window. Inevitably, that changes things. Finally, there is the thought that if he doesn’t sign the extension the Bucks should trade him. I wouldn’t do this unless they have very clear smoke signals that he plans to sign elsewhere. Again, the Bucks aren’t getting access to another talent like this for a long time in all likelihood. And any trade involving Antetekounmpo is impossible to win.
According to a league source, the Warriors have been preparing for years to make a bid for Antetokounmpo. General manager Bob Myers knows that to chart a course for long-term greatness, a team must maintain flexibility — both in terms of its roster and future assets.
Though all indications are that he’s on good terms with team management, league sources believe that Antetokounmpo would want out of Milwaukee if he loses confidence in the franchise’s ability to win championships. This is why the NBA shutdown could buoy the Warriors’ chances of landing their long-coveted Greek.
“If he signs that supermax extension this summer and all of the teams that are sort of saving, you know, keeping their ammo dry for 2021 may begin to make action. They tell me this summer’s star movement may be hinged on whether or not Giannis extends or not. If he extends, you’ll all of a sudden see more action.”
“If he signs that supermax extension this summer and all of the teams that are sort of saving, you know, keeping their ammo dry for 2021 may begin to make action. They tell me this summer’s star movement may be hinged on whether or not Giannis extends or not. If he extends, you’ll all of a sudden see more action.”
The Heat, among many other teams, are reportedly prepared to make a run at The Greek Freak, given the event he chooses to test free agency. Yet Adebayo won’t be the one persuading him to make the move: “At the end of the day, I can’t force a man to make that decision,” said Adebayo, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “That’s going to be his decision, his family’s decision. I can’t persuade him to do that.”
The Heat All-Star knows people are going to play up this angle regardless: “I’m pretty sure people are going to run with that this summer and next summer,” Adebayo said of the common agent denominator. “In 2021, people are going to run with that. “But, at the end of the day, he takes care of me like he takes care of Giannis. And that’s just what you need in an agent. You want a guy that actually cares about everybody and not just some people who are doing better than others.”
The Heat, among many other teams, are reportedly prepared to make a run at The Greek Freak, given the event he chooses to test free agency. Yet Adebayo won’t be the one persuading him to make the move: “At the end of the day, I can’t force a man to make that decision,” said Adebayo, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “That’s going to be his decision, his family’s decision. I can’t persuade him to do that.”
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June 25, 2022 | 8:58 pm EDT Update
“Listen we still run that franchise [Magic]. If they wanna sell it to us, DeVos family, we’re ready to go right now,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast. “This message go out to the DeVos family, if you’re ready to sell Orlando Magic, sell it to somebody who’s gonna take it to the next level, that’s us. D[ennis] Scott and then, D Scott can pick everybody else. Smart people combined with common sense people and people that’s been there before, you can’t go wrong.”