Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks were enjoying a pretty drama-free season. They’ve got the best record in the NBA and Giannis is one of the front runners for the MVP award. However, the “Greek Freak” decided to turn heads when he hinted at a move to Los Angeles in the future.
Giannis, in all likelihood, didn’t mean much by the comment, but it does show that he’s at least open to the idea of leaving the Bucks. While Milwaukee has provided the superstar forward a really strong team with championship potential, they’ll never be able to provide the opportunities that Los Angeles would. That said, if the Lakers want him, they’re going to do a lot to make it happen.
Kostas Antetokounmpo Is a Must Sign for Lakers
Giannis isn’t set to hit free agency until after next season, so there’s plenty of time for teams to make their case to him. He’ll obviously get a max contract no matter where he plays. One thing that could give the Lakers an advantage is that they currently employ his little brother, Kostas, who currently plays for their G League team. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report recently outlined what the Lakers would need to do to get Giannis to L.A. and one of those things is to lock up Kostas:
“While Kostas’ contract runs out after this season, the Lakers can make him a restricted free agent. He may be the team’s highest priority after Davis, who is expected to opt out of the final year of his deal and re-sign with the franchise.
The Lakers won’t know whether Giannis will leave Milwaukee, but they’re not the only team looking to try. The New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and others appear to be protecting their cap room for the 2021 ‘Summer of Giannis.'”
Keeping Kostas in Los Angeles could do a lot to try and help lure Giannis. Though Kostas isn’t as talented as his older brother, his role as a recruiting piece can’t be underestimated. The Lakers should keep a spot for the younger Antetokounmpo until Giannis’ 2021 free agency.
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LeBron Pay Cut?
If the Lakers are to keep Anthony Davis and LeBron James past next season, it’s going to be very difficult to make room for Giannis’ potential contract. Davis should not and probably will not take a pay cut anytime soon. He’s in his prime and probably will be for another five to six years. However, LeBron will be 36 at the start of the 2021-2022 season. Though he could probably still command max money, Pincus points out LeBron will need to take a pay cut if the Lakers have any hope of landing Giannis:
“The Lakers would be dependent on James’ willingness to sacrifice financially. He may have no interest, but if he took it to the extreme, he could re-sign with the team on a minimum contract at just under $3 million—over $40 million below his max salary—to give the Lakers almost $70 million in cap space. That money could be used to max Antetokounmpo and either retain existing players or add yet another star with about $33 million left to spend.”
It’s highly unlikely LeBron takes a minimum contract as Pincus later points out, but any kind of discount could help. He’s going to slow down eventually as nobody plays at an elite level forever. If he took a pay cut to help the Lakers keep Davis and land Giannis, it’s hard to imagine anybody beating that team. It could only help LeBron’s legacy as being considered one of the greatest players in NBA history.