If Giannis Antetokounmpo hits free agency or the trade block anytime in the next year, the Golden State Warriors will reportedly be ready.
A report from Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that the Warriors have had their eyes on the Milwaukee Bucks star for quite some time, and that Warriors general manager Bob Myers has already been starting to make moves that would prepare the team to go after him.
“But according to a league source, the Warriors have been preparing for years to make a bid for Antetokounmpo,” Letourneau wrote, noting that many of the personnel moves in the last year or more have been with Antetokounmpo in mind.
There has been speculation for months that the Warriors may be a good destination for Antetokounmpo, and recent reports indicate that some of the moves this season were part of a plan to snag him. Letourneau noted that the complicated sign-and-trade deal the Warriors pulled off for guard D’Angelo Russell was part of that plan, helping the team get younger and obtaining a player who could become a trade chip and did earlier this year. When Russell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in February, the Warriors picked up what Letourneau called a “lightly protected pick” in the loaded 2021 draft that could help land Antetokounmpo if he goes on the trade block.
Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area believes that the Warriors started planning a move for Antetokounmpo since the 2017-18 season, when it started to become clear that Kevin Durant was likely to leave in the summer of 2019.
It’s not clear what will happen next for Antetokounmpo, who led the Bucks to the top of the NBA before the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus, with no clear plan on whether it will ever finish. Shiller noted that the Bucks are expected to offer Antetokounmpo a supermax deal this offseason, and if Antetokounmpo denies the deal then he will likely move to the trade block so the Bucks can get something in return before he bolts in free agency in 2021.
It could all come down to whether Antetokounmpo can take his team to a title before then, Shiller wrote.
“Then again, most people believe Milwaukee will ride it out and hope that if it wins the title in 2021, he will sign the extension at that point,” he speculated. “Also, the Bucks might operate under the assumption that if Giannis ultimately decides to leave in free agency, they can work out some sort of sign-and-trade with the team he chooses so they at least get something in return.”