If you thought the idea of two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo joining Stephen Curry in Northern California was far-fetched, get a load of this. It seems like the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are already prepared to make a push for the Greek Freak should he hit free agency next summer.
The logistics of pulling off a move of this ilk would be mind-boggling, especially with LeBron James and Anthony Davis still on the Lakers’ roster. Even then, general manager Rob Pelinka is thinking long-term.
Los Angeles Lakers already targeting Giannis Antetokounmpo
“The Lakers have positioned themselves to have cap space next year. And Giannis is not the only potential free agent,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported recently. “I don’t know, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. Here’s what I think when you look at the Lakers’ long-term plans. If you were the Lakers and you were team-building, you would look at Anthony Davis as the next star to build around. It’s nice for him to have LeBron this year and next year, but he needs a younger star to play with going forward.”
There’s a lot of assumptions that would have to come to pass if this were to happen. First off, Giannis would have to turn down a supermax contract extension offer from his Milwaukee Bucks this offseason.
There’s a growing belief that he’s prepared to accept said offer, preventing the game’s most-skilled player from hitting free agency during the summer of 2021.
Secondly, LeBron James would have to opt out of his $41 million salary for the 2021-22 season while taking significantly less to return to the Lakers or opting to move on to another team. Of those two scenarios, taking less cash for the Lakers to land Giannis Antetokounmpo seems more likely. It’s not like King James isn’t set financially.
Finally, Anthony Davis himself would have to sign a two-year extension this offseason with an opt out. From there, he exercises that opt out and takes significantly less money next summer.
Is Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Lakers even possible?
If those scenarios were to play out, and assuming Giannis is open to joining the Lakers, there’s an avenue Los Angeles could pursue here.
The recently-acquired Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews are playing under one-year contracts. Los Angeles could potentially find a team with cap room to take on the contracts of Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, too.
Financially, this would be enough for the Lakers to be able to bring in Giannis Antetokounmpo while forming the biggest super team we have ever seen.
If not the Greek Freak, Ramona Shelburne also mentioned Los Angeles Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as options.
Leonard pushed back against the idea of teaming up with King James prior to signing with the Clippers ahead of the 2019-20 season. A Southern California native, George could be a real option. However, neither player really fits the bill of being a young star to team up with AD once James calls it quits or potentially moves on to another team.
What we do know is that the Lakers’ brass is not resting on their laurels after helping this organization to its first NBA title in a decade. Los Angeles has a plan to continue the success we saw last season over the long term.
Obviously, said plan include retaining Anthony Davis. He’s the Lakers’ franchise cornerstone moving forward. LeBron James is the face of the franchise right now.
From here, the idea would be to team Davis up with Giannis Antetokounmpo and form a consistent contender for the next half-decade.
Whether that’s even feasible depends heavily on the factors mentioned above.