NBA teams may want to chase Giannis Antetokounmpo soon as he is allowing his contract with the Bucks to run out.
It is possible to argue that Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently the best player in the world. Neither his team's nor the two-time MVP's aspirations for the upcoming season are making headlines as he gets ready for his eleventh NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks. Instead, the conversation around Giannis is about his potential future, which may or may not involve him leaving Milwaukee.
At the age of 28, Antetokounmpo has essentially reached his full potential as a basketball player. A few seasons ago, he was selected for the league's 75th anniversary team. He has also won Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player awards. Most significantly, he has won the MVP award for the regular season twice and the MVP title for the 2021 Finals.
Giannis probably would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer if he retired today. Despite approaching the prime of his career and facing some significant contract decisions, the seven-time All-Star does not have retirement on his mind.
Beyond being somewhat concerned about the knee surgery he had done in the offseason, which is preventing Antetokounmpo from playing in the FIBA World Cup, the Bucks should be extremely concerned about what their star player just stated about a potential long-term agreement.
Although Antetokounmpo is now eligible for an extension, he has stated that he will not sign a new contract before the 2023–24 season begins. It appears from what was stated above that he is unsure if he will sign a new agreement with the Bucks. He has a current contract for $228 million over five years, but time is running out.
Giannis is one of those rare players who will be 29 years old by this time next offseason and will turn 30 in December 2024. Players like Giannis do not come around very often. The other twenty-nine NBA teams, according to our NBA Expert Picks predict they will be vying for the services of the future Hall of Famer if he is willing to consider fresh chances outside of Milwaukee.
These are the five clubs that are in the best position to attempt to grab Antetokounmpo from the Bucks because not every team will have the same opportunity to do so.
New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden is home to every home game, the brilliant lights of New York City, and an ardent fan base that adores basketball. This is the price you pay for being a New York Knicks fan.
The Knicks have demonstrated that they have what it takes to be true challengers, despite spending a considerable amount of time at the basement of the Eastern Conference rankings. For this team, the 2023–24 campaign has the potential to be particularly memorable since they want to win 50 games or more for the first time since the 2012–13 campaign.
This organization is currently the subject of a lot of hype, and they have been quietly in the ideal position to sign a major celebrity in recent years. The Knicks are a rising team in the East with cap flexibility, and many people may not be aware of this, but New York has been hoarding draft picks every offseason.
You might wonder why a team that is attempting to win now would be adding more and more future draft capital each year.
To put it simply, the Knicks have a plan in place that includes acquiring a player ranked in the top ten in the NBA.
The Knicks have been linked to Philadelphia 76ers reigning MVP Joel Embiid as a potential addition to their roster. New York has already been identified as a team reportedly interested in Antetokounmpo.
While it is improbable that the Knicks will be able to sign both Giannis and Embiid, they may make an "all-in" effort to sign one of these players in the coming year or two. The professional sports market in New York is the largest in the world, thus Giannis would have a plethora of economic prospects. This is an additional factor that could make this organization a desirable destination.
With Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and other players on their roster, the Knicks are among the teams in the league's best situations going forward for a potential sign-and-trade deal featuring Antetokounmpo in 2025 or 2026.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Knicks are stockpiling draft picks, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have so much draft capital that they could make two new expansion teams. It will only be a matter of time before the Thunder have the best team in the league again thanks to their rebuilding. General manager Sam Presti is a master at swindling other teams out of their future draft picks.
In 2022–2023, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a huge season. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and scored the fourth most points in the league. He will likely be a candidate for the league's MVP award going forward since he is only 25 years old and one of the top five solo scorers in the NBA.
Aside from SGA, the Thunder have Josh Giddey, who can help in many ways, Luguentz Dort, who can stop shots, Chet Holmgren, who will be making his debut as a rookie this year, and a lot more potential in Jalen Williams, Ousmane Dieng, and rookie Cason Wallace.
The Thunder also have a lot of cap space because they own a lot of draft picks over the next few years. There are long-term deals in place for Gilgeous-Alexander, Dort, and Holmgren. If Giannis chose not to exercise his player option before the 2025–26 season, Oklahoma City would be able to add a supermax contract like the one Antetokounmpo is getting.
People have been telling me for years that Presti and the Thunder are going to use all of their draft picks to make a big move. Oklahoma City is on the rise in the Western Conference, and this season they will likely end their three-year playoff slump. Because of this, the Thunder are quickly becoming a desirable place for upcoming free agents to sign.
The Thunder are the only team in the league that could give the Bucks the best deal package for Giannis Williams right now.
San Antonio Spurs
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are two other teams in NBA history that have a lot of history. The San Antonio Spurs. They have won five titles, which is the fourth most in the history of the league. This team will soon be back in the playoffs.
The Spurs made the playoffs every year from 1998 to 2019, but they have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of the last four years. This is their longest playoff drought ever. There is still Gregg Popovich, and to be honest, he might not be done teaching for a while. San Antonio has the tools they need to be successful, and Victor Wembanyama is the first person they should talk to.
Many people think Wembanyama is the best talent since LeBron James in 2003 when he was picked first overall in the draft this summer. The French superstar is 7'4" tall and has an 8'0" reach. He can be his team's main passer and ball handler, and he can score from anywhere on the court. The NBA has never seen a player like him before.
Wembanyama will make the Spurs a better team right away. He will be in charge of a group that includes Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, and Jeremy Sochan, who are all young stars on the rise.
Antetokounmpo would be the experienced leader of a young team that could be successful for at least the next ten years if he wanted to join the Spurs. Besides, he could play with Wembanyama, making them the best pair in the league right away. Their length would make them hard to stop on both ends of the court.
At some point, the Spurs will get an All-Star to pair with their young big man. Antetokounmpo might be the guy they use their future to get.
Los Angeles Lakers
There is no doubt that Los Angeles is the second most important market for sports, right after New York. The Los Angeles Lakers will be in the running for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he becomes available. There are business opportunities, living in sunny L.A., and being a part of what is probably the most historic sports team in the United States.
It's never been a problem for the Lakers to "buy" a team. They may not have cap space right now, but they will by the time Giannis has to choose his contract.
Things will depend on what LeBron James does from now on for Los Angeles and their future. His deal ends after the 2024–25 season, or maybe after this coming season, 2023–24, if he chooses not to exercise his $51.4 million player option next summer. They will keep him as the face of their team as long as he wants to play in the NBA.
According to the team's salary cap, the Lakers can only spend so much. James would gladly take less money if it meant they could get the Bucks' star player. The question of whether Giannis would want to play in Los Angeles is a quite different one.
Like he did in Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo has always been the kind of player who takes pride in leaving a legacy and making something out of nothing. The Lakers are already well-known, and many people might blame him for making such a move. This could make the star not want to consider Los Angeles as a real suitor.
From the point of view of trade, this is also where it might become hard to get him. Los Angeles isn't going to trade Anthony Davis or Austin Reaves, which makes it hard for them to find a way to pay Antetokounmpo's salary.
The Lakers would only be able to get Giannis if he became an unrestricted free agent and they signed him directly. Teams rarely do this with All-Star free agents because they can make more money in sign-and-trade deals.
Golden State Warriors
When it comes to Giannis Antetokounmpo possibly wanting to go to another team, the Bucks should be very afraid of the Golden State Warriors. It was no accident that the Warriors were able to sign Kevin Durant in 2016. The team's owners are always willing to spend a lot of money to get one of the best players in the world.
It's getting old for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. They just won their fourth title since 2015, the 2022 NBA Finals. However, all three stars are getting close to the end of their most productive four, five, or six years of work. Golden State needs to have a long-term plan for who will be the team's star player after Steph. Giannis has been quietly named as the next star the team will go after.
Before Antetokounmpo signed his contract with the Bucks in 2020, there was talk that Golden State might be ready to go after him. Over the years, there have been small signs that both teams might be interested.
Steph and Giannis have always been close when they play against each other during All-Star weekend. This past season, Bucks two-time MVP Kevin Love called Curry the "best player in the world" during media day, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has said that the league is "so lucky" to have a guy like Giannis.
Besides all of this, Giannis has said that he wants to win at the greatest level and leave a legacy like Stephen Curry did.
He believes that Steph is the best player in the world and wants to mimic his career. This makes Antetokounmpo wonder: Why not join the Warriors and win more titles with the guy you admire so much?
In recent years, Golden State has been one of the biggest taxpayers in NBA history. They also can't possibly sign a $50 million to $60 million deal, right?
They won't have to worry about Chris Paul's deal after this season, and Thompson will be able to sign with any team he wants next summer. Andrew Wiggins, Green, and Curry will all be free agents in 2026. Green and Wiggins have player options for the 2026–27 season. Even though it's not likely, the Warriors could set up Thompson's next deal to give them some relief and freedom before Antetokounmpo can choose to leave his contract and become a free agent in 2025.
The Warriors could also trade for Antetokounmpo, but this might be harder to do if Thompson signs a new long-term deal with the team between now and next summer.
Golden State has built an empire over the years, and they don't want Curry, Thompson, and Green to be the last three players to break it. This team wants to win championships and will do everything it can to do so for many years to come. That's why it will probably do everything it can to sign Giannis if he becomes a free agent.