The Golden State Warriors will be persistent in their future pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo but could face a significant roadblock in the process.
After having dropped from NBA Finals runner up to owning the worst record in the league within a year, the Golden State Warriors have had an intriguing 2019-20 season.
Although it seemed to be a significant step in the wrong direction, the team pulled some strings and acquired several assets to potentially make a run at the league’s most coveted soon-to-be free agent, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
To this point, Antetokounmpo has shared no evidence that he wants out of Milwaukee, but that has not stopped the Warriors from gathering assets to make a run if he does publicly request a trade.
Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the team has been “prepping for years” to make a run at the reigning league Most Valuable Player.
Much like when Kevin Durant joined the team in free agency several years ago, acquiring Antetokounmpo could elevate the Warriors back into immediate title contention for years to come at a level above everyone else.
Although under contract until 2021, the Warriors used this season to acquire a vast amount of resources that they could use to potentially use to snag Antetokounmpo from Milwaukee if he showcases a desire to be traded this offseason.
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Along with the newly acquired Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top-3 protected first-round draft pick in 2021, the team also has their own pick for the next two drafts.
With their lackluster 15-50 record this past season, that draft pick could be highly sought after, and a potential centerpiece in a deal for Giannis this offseason.
However, as previously stated, Antetokounmpo will be under contract until after the 2020-21 season, and it does not appear that Milwaukee would look to move him anytime soon.
If the Warriors grow impatient and want to make a move before his free agency, several possible roadblocks could prevent them, one much more significant than others.
The dilemma that could hinder the Warriors’ chances of landing Antetokounmpo is their treacherous cap situation.
The team has so much money invested between Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins that they would undoubtedly have to part with one or more of these players, but not the ones many have speculated.
Wiggins and several of those first-round picks would seem like the most viable option for the Warriors, but the Bucks would likely be opposed to taking on his massive salary. Wiggins will be under contract for the next three seasons, set to make an average salary of $29.5 million per year.
Even with the first-round draft picks attached, the Milwaukee Bucks likely will not bite on such an offer, and the same could be said if Draymond Green replaced Wiggins.
A four-year, $99.7 million extension will take full effect for Green next season, and with an average salary of $24.9 million, the Bucks would likely defer to that salary also.
When it comes down to it, any trade discussion between the Warriors and the Bucks this offseason revolving around Giannis Antetokounmpo will almost certainly involve Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson.
Rightfully so, as Antetokounmpo is one of the league’s top players and a potential back-to-back MVP winner before his 26th birthday. Still, as good as Antetokounmpo is, parting ways with Curry or Thompson seems blatantly unrealistic.
While trading either of these players is almost certainly off-limits, it may be the only way to pry him away from the Milwaukee Bucks early, even with their desirable draft picks.
The Bucks seem built to win now with Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez all locked up long term, and a player of Draymond or Wiggins’ stature would not exactly fill the void left by Antetokounmpo if he wanted out.
Even though the Bucks could potentially flip the picks for other strong pieces, any deal involving a generational talent such as Giannis is not going to come easy.
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If they were to include a two-time MVP or a top-tier shooting guard instead, it might be a slightly different story. If not, the team could look elsewhere for better offers, or potentially even keep the MVP until his contract runs out.
This likely demand makes a trade for Giannis Antetokounmpo this offseason very unrealistic.
This predicament leaves the team’s best chance to pursue him in the 2021 NBA offseason, where a potential sign-and-trade could happen, given he does not sign a lucrative extension with the Bucks before then.
If it comes down to it, would the Warriors even consider trading away Curry or Thompson if it meant getting a player of Antetokounmpo’s stature? Likely not, but in today’s NBA, crazier things have happened.
However, one thing that people have forgotten is the possibility that Antetokounmpo could realistically stay with the Bucks long-term. Tim Bontemps from ESPN had the following to say about the situation.
"“Given how well the Bucks are playing, every executive we spoke to expects Antetokounmpo to re-sign with Milwaukee. The Bucks are the overwhelming favorite to reach the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference, and falling short of that bar looks to be the only thing that could put Milwaukee’s MVP in play.”"
With a 53-12 record at the time the NBA suspended play, the Bucks had never been better. For Antetokounmpo to leave a situation like this, there would have to be a significant team collapse, which looks rather unlikely.
It would be desirable for Warriors fans to see Giannis Antetokounmpo make his way over to Golden State, but right now, it appears to be just a pipe dream with all factors played in.