Now that the dust has settled on what has been without question one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history, it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to look forward and try to see if there’s any chance we will all be witnesses to a free agency class of this magnitude in the coming years.
Well, it looks like this won’t take too long, with the summer of 2021 also shaping up to be one heck of an offseason. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James as well as Los Angeles Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George headline the 2021 free agency class, with all three potentially eligible to sign with new teams at that point in time. However, the biggest fish in this particular class would have to be Milwaukee Bucks reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Giannis’ current four-year deal runs until the 2020-21 season, and by then, he could potentially become an unrestricted free agent. There has been a lot of talk about the 24-year-old becoming the center of attention of more than a few teams, and below, we outline some of the more prominent sides that appear to be already setting up for the Antetokounmpo sweepstakes in the summer of 2021.
There is no doubt that the Bucks are in the drivers seat in terms of retaining Giannis’ services for the foreseeable future. The 2016-17 Most Improved Player winner himself has already declared his loyalty for his current team, and has indicated on several occasions that he intends to stay in Milwaukee for the long haul.
The Bucks hold the biggest advantage here as they can actually sign Antetokounmpo to an extension even before he hits free agency. Milwaukee can already offer Giannis a new deal next summer, and according to reports, this will come out to the tune of a record-breaking $247.3 million supermax deal that will extend his stay with the Bucks for another five years. That’s definitely a whole lot of money, but this is certainly something the Milwaukee front office must be able to muster no matter what.
Giannis is theirs to lose, and given that they are a small market team, they simply cannot afford to let a once-in-a-generation type of talent slip through their hands.
Los Angeles Lakers
One team that will definitely be in the picture will be the Los Angeles Lakers. As a matter of fact, their best shot at convincing LeBron sign an extension might even hinge on bringing Antetokounmpo to Hollywood. James will be 37 by that season, and he will likely consider an emotional return to the Cleveland Cavaliers to close out his career. Well, having the opportunity to play with one of the best players in the game — someone that he could pass on the torch to — should convince him otherwise.
Of late, the Lakers signed Giannis’ younger brother, Kostas, to a two-way deal, and perhaps this was a move geared more towards gaining an advantage in the Giannis sweepstakes as opposed to truly requiring the services of the 21-year-old power forward. Moreover, it is also worth noting that L.A. brought on Jason Kidd as a handsomely-paid assistant coach in the middle of last season, and his ties with Giannis — who Kidd coached during his stint with the Bucks between 2014 and 2018 — might also give the Lakers another competitive edge.
New York Knicks
If Antetokunmpo will indeed be available in the summer of 2021, then you can almost certainly see the New York Knicks playing some part in the race to sign the highly-coveted superstar. We all know how the Knicks absolutely failed in their attempt to land a new face to their franchise this summer, so it is more than likely that they will have another go at it at the next possible opportunity.
It is worth noting that following their highly-publicized debacle this offseason, the Knicks ended up signing guys like Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, and Taj Gibson. What makes these additions very intriguing is the fact that except for Morris, who is on a one-year deal, all these players were signed on two-season contracts. All these deals will expire in the summer of 2021, which frees up a ton of cap space for the Knicks. We’ve seen this movie before, though, so New York will definitely be hoping for much more luck in a couple of year’s time.
Such is the talent of Giannis that his impending decision will greatly impact not only the three aforementioned teams above, but the rest of the NBA as well. Antetokounmpo’s future is definitely one of the most important aspects that will shape the landscape of the league for years to come, and we will be sure to monitor this situation as closely as humanly possible.