Now that Giannis Antetokounmpo is only two years away from free agency, rumors about his next destination have already begun in full force. The team that has generated the most buzz so far? The Golden State Warriors. Marc Stein of the New York Times first reported in February that the Warriors would be interested in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Ramona Shelburne reaffirmed that notion on Monday’s episode of “The Jump” on ESPN.
On paper, the rumors are justified. Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry at least have a mutual respect, as they each took the other with their first pick in the All-Star draft over the past two years. They are both represented by Jeff Austin of Octagon, and as we saw this offseason with Klutch Sports representing LeBron James and Anthony Davis while Roc Nation represented Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, agencies packaging superstars is a growing trend.
“Keeping Giannis, it’s a focus obviously,” one Bucks front-office source told Heavy.com. “But fighting the Warriors is not a focus. The Warriors are not the concern in the least. They’d have a long way to go to get him to Golden State, they’d have to give away a lot. He has never given any indication that he wants to leave Milwaukee. So a lot of that stuff, it is more chatter than anything.”
Getting Antetokounmpo to Golden State would be a massive undertaking. We covered. In short, Golden State would need to sacrifice at least two of its four current All-Stars as well as a meaningful chunk of depth in order to make it happen.
In that sense, the Bucks have little to fear from Golden State. It is possible, but making it happen would be so difficult that focusing on it organizationally would almost be a waste of energy. The Bucks have a championship-ready roster right now, and winning the title would likely ensure Antetokounmpo’s signature on a supermax extension next summer. If the Bucks don’t win it, there are teams more readily positioned to pursue him than the Warriors.
The logical landing spots for Antetokounmpo, should he leave the Bucks, are mostly younger teams. The Atlanta Hawks, for instance, could surround him with nearly unlimited shooting. Even with team options, they have only $27 million in committed salary for the 2021-22 season, so they could theoretically surround Antetokounmpo with whomever he’d like to play with. The Dallas Mavericks don’t have quite that flexibility, but in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, can offer him two readymade superstars capable of winning on the same timeline as him.
And then there’s the other big-market boogeyman looming over the proceedings. The Los Angeles Lakers signed Kostas Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ younger brother, to a two-way contract this summer. If they hold off of signing Kyle Kuzma to a contract extension, and either LeBron James, Anthony Davis or both are willing to leave some money on the table at the expiration of their current contracts, they too could get into the running for the MVP.
Of course, with two years before a decision needs to be made, this is all speculation. The Bucks can make this easier on themselves by simply winning the championship this season. But no matter what Antetokounmpo or the team says, these whispers will persist until he signs a new deal. Too many superstars have said all of the right things before eventually walking away. Antetokounmpo staying would be the exception, not the rule.