Giannis Antetokounmpo Rumors: Four Teams in Position to Pursue the Star

Fresh off a second-round exit to the Miami Heat, speculation surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo and his future has begun. The 25-year-old averaged a ludicrous 29.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists on 55.3 percent shooting. The Greek Freak became just the third player in NBA history to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

Despite these accolades, Antetokounmpo has voiced his desire to win a championship. Small market teams like the Milwaukee Bucks struggle to attract high-level free agents thus securing his talents long-term is a priority. For those who wonder why Antetokounmpo would stay in Milwaukee, he has 247 million reasons why. He would become the highest-paid player in NBA history. Not all teams realistically have a shot at securing his services. Golden State is rumored to be very interested in the two-time MVP but their cap sheet is a mess. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are featured in rumors but their futures are relatively unknown. Anthony Davis will receive a Max contract this upcoming off-season while LeBron James will turn 36 in 2021. The Knicks are in every single rumor but they struggle to even secure a meeting with major free agents.

 

Four Teams in Position to Pursue the Star

Dallas Forms the Trio of Europe

The Dallas Mavericks made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Armed with stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks must surround its cornerstones with other high-level talents.

Adding Giannis Antetokounmpo would propel them to the top of the Western Conference.

Dallas GM Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban have done a fantastic job positioning itself to go after the Greek Freak in 2021. The Mavericks have just eight players under contract.

It’s important to note that Doncic will receive a Max Rookie extension in 2022 as a Restricted Free Agent. The Slovenian’s extension won’t kick in until 2023, allowing Dallas to sign Antetokounmpo outright. The Mavericks have Doncic’s Bird Rights and have indicated they are willing to pay the luxury tax.

Dallas has an excellent reputation with European players. Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki spent his entire 20-year career with the Mavericks and now the baton lies with Doncic and Porzingis. While US stars crave the bright lights of big markets, European players are undeterred preferring fit.

Antetokounmpo appears content playing in any market, a good sign for Dallas who typically struggles to sign big free agents.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Masai Ujiri Unite

Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors have become one of the premier franchises in the NBA. After winning their first Championship in 2019, the Raptors finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference despite losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Toronto pounded a helpless Brooklyn Nets team in the first round of the playoffs before losing in seven games to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semi-Finals.

The Raptors have oodles of cap space in 2021-22 with salary committed to just four players.

It is important to note that forward OG Anunoby is due for a contract renewal and is set for a substantial raise. I suspect he will receive a four-year deal worth somewhere in the $80-million range. If you factor in his extension and while renouncing the rights to all cap holds, they are set to have around $80-million to play with.

The ties between Ujiri and Giannis Antetokounmpo run deep after the Raptors GM helped his family immigrate to Greece from Nigeria. Ujiri tried desperately to trade into the 2015 draft to take the Greek but couldn’t make a deal. This could be his shot to land Toronto their biggest free agent ever.

Miami Brings the Heat

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are one of the premier organizations in the NBA. They have the allure of zero taxes, hot weather, beaches, and a shot to play for one of the most storied franchises in history. Miami has shown the ability to pivot and create championship rosters on the move thanks to quality scouting and elite level coaching.

The Heat have a mountain of cap space in 2021 Free Agency with just two guaranteed contracts.

Big man Bam Adebayo is likely to receive a Rookie Max Extension to the tune of five-years, $147-million. Miami can offer his extension this upcoming off-season but are likely to wait. The Heat will no doubt assure Adebayo of his importance to the squad to avoid a contentious situation.

If Miami and Adebayo come to an understanding, the Heat can strategically plot to maintain cap space for Antetokounmpo. Should Miami decline Andre Iguodala‘s $15-million team option, they will have between 60 to 80-million to play with before any other moves are made.

The Clippers Create a Super Team

The Los Angeles Clippers are in a tough spot. After surrendering Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks, and two pick swaps for Paul George last off-season, the Clippers lost in the second round to the Denver Nuggets.

To make matters worse, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported some disconnect between George and other players on the roster.

GM Jerry West must be losing sleep over this given he just mortgaged the Clippers’ immediate future. Despite these recent reports, Kawhi Leonard and George remain committed to playing with one another.

The Clippers will have some space in 2021 but the roster construction leans heavily on whether George and Leonard opt into their deals. If they do, they will need to renounce their cap holds and trade Patrick Beverley without returning salary to create around $29-million in cap space.

The Clippers will likely need to move Ivica Zubac‘s deal to offer the full max but its a plausible move. This will hamstring Los Angeles but Owner Steve Balmer has the deepest pockets in the NBA. He said he will pay any amount of money to win a Championship.

Let the games begin…

If Antetokounmpo declines his Supermax, things will get interesting during the 2021 free agency period. The two-time MVP will have a myriad of suitors but none can offer him more than the four teams mentioned above.

Will the allure of two young stars in Dallas be enough to pull him to Texas or will two established All-Stars and the Los Angeles market be more appealing? Miami offers a wonderful lifestyle, no taxes, two stars, and a storied history while The Raptors offer a more personal touch. Ujiri’s involvement with Antetokounmpo’s immigration is bound to have a strong pull on the young star. Yes, Toronto has a star in Pascal Siakam, a huge, devoted market (Toronto) but nothing beats family.

If Giannis Antetokounmpo does end up hitting the open market, it’s going to be true hysteria.

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