2021 NBA Free Agency is just about a year away and from the looks of it, it is going to be a star-studded free agent frenzy. The players that will become free agents will include Lebron James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Among them, Giannis is arguably the most exciting one. The reigning MVP is likely to sign a huge contract, and at the same time, make any team he signs with a playoff contender, whether it is with the Bucks again or another NBA team.
Currently, Giannis and the Bucks are sitting at the top seed in the Eastern Conference as they will compete for the championship once the season resumes in Orlando. The Greek Freak believes that the Bucks are a winning team and he has expressed his desire to stay in Milwaukee to develop the team’s winning culture. However, free agent history tells us countless times that the unexpected may unfold, especially when the Giannis-led Bucks still haven’t tasted a single Finals appearance.
Once 2021 Free Agency comes, a lot of teams will be gunning for Giannis Antetokounmpo. For this article, let’s take a look at all the 30 NBA teams and rank the Giannis’ potential destinations, assuming all of them make room for him in order to get under the salary cap.
30. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets haven’t made the playoffs since 2016. Despite being a team largely owned by no other than Michael Jordan, the team has struggled mightily, especially after the departure of Kemba Walker. Some notable young players on their roster include Devonte Graham, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges. Unfortunately, having these players aren’t enough to become a legitimate playoff contender. As of now, they’re players that still need a lot of time to develop.
For sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo will become a star player in this team. He’ll do whatever it takes to carry the team as far as he can, but a second round appearance would already be a big achievement. As a result, it’d be best if Giannis stays away from Charlotte if he wants to win it all.
29. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons can play competitively, so as long as Blake Griffin is there to lead the team. However with Griffin getting hounded by injuries as of late, it would put a lot of burden on Giannis’ shoulders to carry this team deep into the playoffs. Aside from Griffin, the next best player is Derrick Rose. The 2011 MVP has been a bright spot for Detroit as of late.
However, it is worth noting that Rose and Griffin have histories with injury. At the same time, they aren’t getting younger with both of them currently aging at 31. If both of them were healthy and at their prime, no doubt Detroit would’ve been one of the enticing teams for Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, this won’t be the case in 2021.
Sure, Detroit has a first round draft pick in 2020, but it still remains uncertain how that player will help Detroit’s cause. As of now, it is hard to see Detroit contend in the Finals for a championship. Even for a player as good as the reigning MVP, it’d be an impossible mission for him to turn this team around in a snap.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland has been in rebuild mode as well, ever since the departure of Lebron James. For the past two seasons, the Cavaliers have posted losing records and ended up dead last this season. Giannis has the ability to turn Cleveland into a winning team again, quite possibly just like how Lebron did. However at that time, Lebron had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
As of now, the Cavs’ best players are Andre Drummond, Colin Sexton, and an older Kevin Love which doesn’t really fit the bill for a legit championship contending team. It would be nice to see Cleveland deploy a triple tower combination between Drummond-Love-Giannis, however there’s no doubt that Giannis will have to carry majority of the offensive pressure with Sexton still quite raw.
Because this is a rebuilding team as well, it would be hard to know if Giannis Antetokounmpo is willing to wait for this team to develop. The Greek Freak wants to make the most out of his prime years, however Cleveland seems to be at a disarray at this point as they still need more pieces to play competitively at least.
27. Phoenix Suns
It might be fun to see Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio, and DeAndre Ayton play with Antetokounmpo. However, these Suns players will not be enough to contend for a championship. This Suns team still needs to mature together and add some pieces to become a competitive playoff team. Sure, Booker has the ability to drop 70 points in a game but their winning culture is still a big question mark. Furthermore, Ayton still needs time to develop into a more stable big.
Because of this, it would be next to impossible to see Giannis in a Suns uniform by 2021. If Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to win a ring during his prime years, the Suns won’t be the team for him.
26. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have a storied franchise, however, they just haven’t been able to relive their glory days since the Michael Jordan era. Currently, they are building players around Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. These are talented young players, however it is discouraging to know that the Bulls have missed the playoffs since 2017.
With the Bulls currently in rebuilding mode, it is highly likely Giannis will not be signing with this Bulls team. He wouldn’t want to spend his prime years in the league trying to make Chicago Bulls a regular in the playoffs at best.
25. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young is one of the Hawks players that Giannis would be interested to play with. The hot-shooting point guard possesses unlimited range. He can be a perfect teammate to receive a kick-out pass as well from the reigning MVP. However if Trae Young and John Collins are the only reasons to play for the Hawks, it is highly unlikely Giannis will play for them.
With Atlanta rebuilding as well, they are still trying to go back to winning ways. If Antetokounmpo does come on board, they’d become a legit playoff contender. However, that’s how far they’ll go and unfortunately, Giannis has the desire to win it all. Because of this, the Hawks are probably not one of his possible destination plans.
24. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have young and upcoming talent in Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, and De’Aaron Fox. However, the team just doesn’t have enough star power to convince Giannis to play for Sacramento. It would definitely be exciting to see Giannis run alongside their young prospects and they will probably make some noise in the league as one of the dark horses.
However with the team’s lack of experience in the playoffs, it will be hard to predict whether these young prospects will be able to cope with the pressure come playoff time. Furthermore, if the Kings were to sign Giannis, they might have to give up some of their young prospects to have some room for their salary cap. Although the Kings’ rebuild is going on a positive direction, it’d be better for Giannis Antetokounmpo to play his best years for a championship team.
23. Memphis Grizzlies
The team has shown some glimpses of potential, especially when it is spearheaded by the 2019 2nd overall draft pick, Ja Morant. However, I doubt it is enough to persuade Giannis to come play for the Grizzlies. With their current roster, Memphis will still need to develop their young core and add some key pieces in order to become a regular fixture in the playoffs.
As of now, this young team is just starting to fulfill their potential and there’s no guarantee if they can get better. More importantly, this Grizzlies roster still hasn’t been tested to succeed in the playoffs. Because of this, it might be a huge gamble for Giannis to join the Grizzlies now.
22. Orlando Magic
Nikola Vučević, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier have been the cornerstones of the Orlando Magic. Add The Greek Freak into the mix and you make this team a true contender in the Eastern Conference. The Magic will have the luxury of deploying an inside and outside threat between Giannis and Vučević. It will certainly give top teams a run for their money.
However, Giannis might be discouraged given their first round exit in last year’s playoffs. Furthermore in this current season, they’re just one of the teams struggling stay relevant in the playoff picture. With their current state, it will be a miracle for this Florida-based team to land Giannis Antetokounmpo.
21. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have shown they can be a threat in the East, especially when Wall and Beal bring out their A-game. All the more will they improve after they drafted Japanese sensation, Rui Hachimura, who could potentially become one of the best forwards in the league.
However with two max players in Beal and Wall, it becomes a long shot for the Wizards to sign Giannis. This will definitely force them to take a hit in their depth chart, while also possibly letting go either Beal or Wall. Furthermore with Giannis at the helm, the reigning MVP will undoubtedly have to take touches and minutes away from Hachimura, which hinders the latter’s development.
As a result, Giannis Antetokounmpo will fare better if he goes elsewhere.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
If you put together Giannis and Karl Anthony Towns in one team, then that could potentially become a dangerous dynamic duo. However with the Timberwolves being over the salary cap right now, they might have to give up Towns or Russell to accommodate the reigning MVP which puts them at a major disadvantage.
Even if Towns and Antetokounmpo do team up, the rest of the roster lacks in firepower to go deep in the playoffs, especially when they belong to the stacked Western Conference. Therefore, it will be safe to expect not to see Antetokounmpo in a Timberwolves uniform.
19. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson has shown he could be a force to be reckoned with. After being drafted first overall, he is no doubt the franchise player for the New Orleans Pelicans. With his size and strength, he can bully his counterparts in the paint while also showing decent range beyond the arc. Pair him with Giannis and the Pelicans have dynamic duo that can dominate the paint with ease. If the Pelicans also manage to keep Redick until that time, this team would be a torn for any opposing team in the league.
Although having Giannis in New Orleans seems exciting, it is highly unlikely the reigning MVP plays for them. Zion is still young with a lot to improve on. Furthermore, there’s also no guarantee that his potential would turn him into a superstar, given how prone he is to injury.
Should he get injured, Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to carry the Pelicans on his back in the stacked Western Conference during his prime, which is a waste of his time.
18. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia is currently a stacked team with the likes of Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid spearheading this Sixers team, it is difficult to see how they will blend when Giannis comes into the picture given the overlapping playing styles of the three star players. Furthermore, the team will have to give up at least one of their star players in order to accommodate the reigning MVP but that won’t likely happen.
As competitive Giannis is, it will be difficult for him to take a back seat. For sure, either Embiid, Simmons, or both would feel the same way. Therefore, The Greek Freak would probably look elsewhere if he wants to lead a team to a ring under his leadership.
17. Houston Rockets
If Giannis will play for Houston, there’s no doubt it will help the Rockets make a push for a championship. Adding another MVP to their roster can help them form a super team with Harden, Westbrook, and Giannis at the forefront. Imagine the reigning MVP dominating the post, while James Harden and the rest of the shooters knock down their open shots. Given how Houston puts a premium on 3-point shooting and how Giannis can easily get rebounds and dunks, it would be a nightmare for opposing teams.
However, this will unlikely happen given how Westbrook and Harden are currently signed to max contracts which leaves no room for the Greek All-Star. Furthermore with Harden at the helm and Westbrook in tow, for sure at least one of the three stars may have to sacrifice their individual statistics in order to win. It is questionable whether all the three players will be fine with it.
16. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics have proven to be a worthy rival for the reigning MVP and his Bucks. Because of this, it would be enticing for the Celtics to sign Giannis, as it would allow them to go deeper into the playoffs. However, it is quite a long shot. Given the restraints of the salary cap, the team will have to give up a lot of key pieces, which can backfire their rising development.
As exciting Giannis Antetokounmpo in a Celtics uniform could be with the likes of Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, it seems to be unlikely. The reigning MVP wouldn’t want to join the team he just knocked out during the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
15. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are a young team with a lot of talent. There’s no doubt adding Antetokounmpo to the mix will make them even more dangerous in the Western Conference. Imagine having a 1-2 punch between Giannis and Jokic, those are two giants that can put the ball on the floor and dominate the post.
Furthermore the presence of Jamaal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will definitely do some damage to opposing teams. However, adding Giannis will affect their depth chart negatively, given their limited space due to the salary cap. More importantly, they might have to give up one of their key pieces.
As a result, Giannis Antetokounmpo might be better off elsewhere where he can lead a team that can keep its important pieces while having the ability to recruit valuable players that could play a critical role in winning a championship.
14. Indiana Pacers
With Oladipo heading out to the Free Agent market in 2021, the Pacers would need to look for another star player that will make them more formidable. Enter, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Pacers have shown that they have a winning culture, as they maintained their spot in the East last year despite a season-ending injury to Oladipo.
I’m sure Giannis can make a legit contender out of the Pacers and would consider their winning culture. But with the entrance of the reigning MVP, how bad will the depth of the Pacers get hit, as they would also want to keep Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and Giannis’ cherished former Bucks teammate, Malcolm Brogdon. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that Giannis would work well with the playing styles of the Pacers’ cornerstones.
13. Portland Trail Blazers
Although it will be difficult to squeeze in Giannis, having him play for Portland alongside Lilard would be exciting. However, that means they will possibly have to give up one of their gems in CJ McCollum.
But if Giannis were to join the Blazers, the offensive pressure on Lilard will reduce greatly. At the same time, Giannis will have a reliable scoring guard that can finish in the clutch. Furthermore, the presence of Nurkić will help them make an impact as well in the frontline.
However assuming, they land Giannis while keeping Lilard and Nurkić, it would be difficult to fill up quality role players that will give relief to those three players. For sure, opposing teams will take advantage when those guys aren’t on the floor. It is worth noting how important it is to have a deep roster in order to have a successful campaign, due to untimely injuries and fatigue.
I am pretty sure Giannis Antetokounmpo would consider that before signing with any team, especially when Portand has got a long list of notable players that have suffered career-threatening injuries.
12. San Antonio Spurs
Given how Greg Popovich has a talent in molding international players into stars like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Giannis Antetokounmpo would undoubtedly benefit from with Popovich. However, it remains a question whether the reigning MVP can adjust to the Spurs’ system that preaches ball movement, spacing, and shooting.
Furthermore, it would be interesting to see how Giannis can turn Spurs into a championship contender again after the departure of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be feasible given how the future of the Spurs is quite a blur by 2021, as their main guys in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge will be free agents also by then.
However if Giannis does join the Spurs and lead them to another championship, it will certainly add more positives to the legacies of The Greek Freak and Greg Popovich.
11. Utah Jazz
With the Jazz’s defensive center, Rudy Gobert, possibly leaving the team, the Jazz could be an exciting destination for the current Bucks All Star. With Mitchell proving to be one of the best guards in the league, he can form a one-two punch with Antetokounmpo. Supplanted by the superb playmaking of Joe Ingles and the hot-shooting of Bojan Bogdanovic, the Salt Lake City can prove to be a threat in the West with the Greek All-Star in tow.
Sure Gobert’s absence will have big defensive shoes to fill, however, the entrance of Giannis allows them to add more depth in their wings, while providing some threat in the paint. It will be a question tho, whether how Mitchell will be willing to concede to Giannis given how the former has been the leader of the Jazz for the past seasons.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
If the Thunder can keep Adams and add Antetokounmpo in 2021, this team will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Supported by Chris Paul’s unmatched playmaking skills and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s steady rise, the team can build around a foundation that can make a deep run in the playoffs.
However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo in tow, there’s a question of how OKC will manage to fill the remaining roster spots with quality players. More importantly, there is also Chris Paul’s playoff curse. It will definitely surprise a lot of fans if Giannis goes to OKC, given that there are better options out there and team up with players who have the proven they can win all the way to a ring.
9. Brooklyn Nets
Giannis joining the Nets will shake up the league. Given how the Nets were able to get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together last year, a third star will make them look unstoppable on paper. However, it seems unrealistic at this point. Durant joined the Nets to lead his own team and having Giannis on board will defeat that purpose, as the three stars will have to sacrifice their numbers and put aside their egos.
Still, if the Nets were able to make it happen, they could potentially take over the league even if they give up either Irving or Durant to make room for the reigning MVP.
8. Dallas Mavericks
Speaking of super teams, Giannis in a Mavericks uniform playing with Kristaps Porzingis and arguably one of the best players from Europe, Luka Doncic, will be a deadly trio that will throw fans off their seats. With Dallas making room for either Antetokounmpo or Gobert, just imagining it would strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams.
According to The Ringer, “If the Mavs wait until 2021, they could have enough cap space to pursue a max free agent, depending on what the salary cap is. Plan A remains Giannis…”
No doubt, this European trio will potentially push the Mavericks even further at the top of the league standings, given their versatility and star power. Their team-up would be similar to putting up an European All-Star team. If Mark Cuban can make it happen and surround them with quality pieces, then it will be giving Mavs fans and European basketball diehards more reasons to be excited for the near-future.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers made a lot of noise in 2019 when they managed to get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, while keeping their key pieces in Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley. It remains to be seen whether their team up will actually work, as the league reopens in July. It is worth noting that Leonard and George become free agents with Giannis in 2021.
Given how it is Jerry West who oversees the team, it is not impossible to have Giannis come onboard the Clippers roster, especially if the duo of Leonard and George display a disappointing run in the playoffs. No doubt, having Giannis Antetokounmpo pair with either George or Leonard in your team can make the Clippers a top contender and will definitely rock the NBA world.
6. Golden State Warriors
If there is a team that will surprise the NBA fans to the highest degree, it would be Giannis joining the Golden State Warriors. It is far from possible, but we all know how the Warriors caught us by surprise when they were able to sign Kevin Durant in 2016. With their current trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, adding Antetokounmpo would immediately make them a super team again and possibly an unstoppable championship contender.
However, that would mean Giannis should be willing to take a pay cut and the Warriors would have trouble again with their depth, similar to how they loss the championship series against the Toronto Raptors in 2019, when the injury bug hit them hard.
Furthermore, Giannis’ reputation and legacy would be tainted just like Durant’s. Although this team-up is unlikely to happen given the competitive nature of Giannis, the reigning MVP joining the Warriors will drop our jaws to the ground and disrupt the balance of the NBA once again.
5. Toronto Raptors
Talking about championships, the Raptors made a statement as they outlasted the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals despite being the underdogs. The Raptors now have a decent chance of making noise again by signing the reigning MVP.
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, “Toronto’s interest in pursuing Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 is no secret. Another deep playoff run would add to the sales pitch…”
With the Raptors gunning for another championship, pairing Antetokounmpo and Siakam will be a dangerous duo that can help their cause. Furthermore with the opportunity to be coached by Nick Nurse, Giannis just might become one of the international players that have benefitted from playing for the Raptors alongside Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and OG Anunoby.
However with other elite teams having more flexibility to pair Giannis Antetokounmpo with stronger star players, it might keep the Greek All-Star away from Toronto. But given how Toronto was able to land Kawhi Leonard in 2018, there is a decent chance they get the Greek Freak to play for them.
4. New York Knicks
As much as the team can afford All-Star caliber players, they have never really succeeded in getting players at par with the expectations they set. Furthermore, the Knicks have never tasted a playoff appearance since 2013. Although they currently have some interesting pieces in RJ Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., and Kevin Knox II, it’ll be hard to convince Giannis to play for the city that never sleeps with these players. As much as these players have potential, they still need a lot of time to develop in order to become playoff contenders. Although they have the resources to pair Giannis with another star player, it never seems to work out for this franchise.
Also it doesn’t help that Giannis has apprehensions against the Knicks after his brother claims to have been mistreated by the Knicks organization.
According to New York Post’s Marc Berman, “‘The Greek Freak’ has no ties to New York other than bad thoughts about brother, Thanasis, not being treated well while with the Knicks organization.”
As a result, there is a big chance Giannis will not suit up for the Knicks given how the reigning MVP wants to keep his brothers close.
The only reason why the Knicks have a good shot to get Giannis Antetokounmpo is their ability to give him a huge contract while also surrounding him with key pieces. At the same time, 2021 could prove to be different. Therefore, it might be safe to say that the Knicks have a chance but don’t keep your hopes up.
3. Miami Heat
If there is a team that wants to make some noise in the 2021 Free Agency Season, it would be the Miami Heat. After the team’s success of putting together Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh in 2010, there’s no doubt they want to land a big star in 2021, with Free Agency stacked with star players like Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Heat have a good shot in luring Antetokounmpo.
According to Shandel Richardson of Sports Illustrated, “The Heat have a couple factors on their side. Center Bam Adebayo and Antetokounmpo, who share the same agent, have built a friendship the past couple few years. There is also the lure of Pat Riley, who helped land Lebron James in 2010 when he was in a similar position as Antetokounmpo.”
Furthermore with the team being led by Jimmy Butler, the addition of Giannis will allow the Heat to form a dynamic duo between those players and to have a deep playoff run for a championship. However, all these factors may not be enough to convince Giannis to leave Milwaukee.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
If there is a team that Giannis should go for when he leaves Milwaukee, it would be the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers arguably the best team in the West right now, it is certainly an enticing choice to suit up for the Purple and Gold. Aside from a franchise rich in history, Giannis has a golden opportunity to team up with Lebron James and Anthony Davis, which makes them a formidable All-Star trio that can increase their chances of a championship.
Furthermore with Giannis having the desire to play with his brothers in a team, the Lakers have the resources to make that happen, as they already have Kostas Antetokounmpo in their roster. All it would take is to sign Thanasis as well.
Aside from this, the Lakers also have a couple of advantages to persuade Giannis. First, Jason Kidd is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. Given how the player turned coach has a good relationship with the league’s reigning MVP, this could potentially lure Giannis to the Lakers.
Second, Lebron James is not getting any younger while Giannis is entering his prime years. The former can definitely mold Giannis into a championship-caliber player, given how Lebron has won three rings so far. Furthermore, Giannis and Lebron can win more rings together in the latter’s final years, as the Greek MVP can eventually be the receiver of the keys to the Laker’s future alongside Anthony Davis.
Because of this, the Lakers should at least be the top destinations in Giannis’ mind if he leaves Milwaukee given how his future can shine bright in a Lakers uniform.
Even if all the teams in the NBA make room for Giannis Antetokounmpo, there’s no team like the Milwaukee Bucks that his given a home for the reigning MVP. His achievements as a player wouldn’t be possible had the Bucks not take a chance on the scrawny kid from Greece. Because of this, Giannis treasures this team, as it gives him plenty of reasons to stay.
The Bucks are currently sitting at the top seed in the East for the second straight season. After a long layoff because of the pandemic, there’s no doubt Giannis and his Bucks are well-rested to gun for the trophy. Should Giannis lead this Bucks team to a championship, I think it gives the Greek Freak all the more reason to stay and to show his gratitude for Milwaukee. With Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe around him, the chemistry is already there and the winning culture of the team will only continue to develop.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be a wrong decision for Giannis to play his prime years in Milwaukee and continue to build his legacy there. As a result, Milwaukee still stands to be the number one front-runner to keep the Greek sensation.