Big Man Leaves Lakers to Sign With Overseas Team

Getty Images Kostas Antetokounmpo.

The Los Angeles Lakers will not have Kostas Antetokounmpo back next year with the 23-year-old big man deciding to sign with Olympiacos in his native Greece.

Antetokounmpo will be a restricted free agent this summer and there were reports last month that he was considering returning to Greece.

Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens have inquired about big man Kostas Antetokounmpo according to Eurohoops sources.

Antetokounmpo, 23, is becoming a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s now occupied with the Greek national team ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament of Canada and will then evaluate the offers he has in order to decide on his future.

The best offer reportedly came from Olympiacos, with Antetokounmpo — the younger brother of Bucks two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo — inking a four-year deal with the team, per Christos Harpidis of Total Basket Greece.

As Harpidis noted, Antetokounmpo is waiting until after playing with the Greek national team before making it official. Greece is currently playing in Olympic qualifying.

Giannis Embraced Playing Against Kostas, Lakers

Antetokounmpo has yet to prove that he has the talent to be a contributor at the NBA level. Last season he played just 3.7 minutes over 15 games and averaged 0.7 points and 1.3 rebounds. He was not with the Lakers during their first-round series against the Suns, reportedly attending to a personal matter in Greece.

Antetokounmpo was on his second two-way deal with the Lakers and would have been a restricted free agent. However, there’s was no guarantee the Lakers would tender him a minimum-salary qualifying offer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo plays with his other brother, Thanasis, in Milwaukee and said having his two brothers on the court with him in the NBA when the Bucks played the Lakers was one of the best experiences in his career.

“This moment today is probably my favorite moment in the NBA,” Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters in April. “You can never have a feeling like this. You win a game at the buzzer, you score 50 or 40 points, that does not matter. Seeing the guys that I grew up with. We were looking at the ceiling imagining if we ever going to make it in the NBA. Being in the same court and mom videotaping the whole thing, it’s priceless.”

Lakers Felt They Had ‘Championship-Caliber’ Roster

The first-round exit against the Suns was a disappointment for the Lakers but the team was plagued by injures for the majority of the year. An Anthony Davis groin strain in the postseason was the final straw for the Lakers’ title hopes, leaving the team wondering what a healthy roster would have looked like. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said he felt the roster was “championship-caliber.”

“We feel like the roster we had this year was a championship-caliber roster,” Pelinka said in his exit interview, per The Athletic. “And obviously there were a lot of things that came into the mix that weren’t within our control that kept us from winning a championship. … Of course, we’ll learn from this season and from how the roster was constructed and we’ll apply that wisdom and experiences to what we do going forward.”

Notable free agents the Lakers have to work with are Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore.

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