After another disappointing finish in the postseason, Giannis Antetokounmpo refused to give in to the growing pressure to demand a trade and leave the Milwaukee Bucks.
In fact, following his Game 5 loss, Giannis went on record to deny that he'd be requesting any trade before his contract expires next summer. Still, it doesn't mean he'll stay with the Bucks forever, and if Milwaukee suffers a similarly disappointing finish next year, it could be the final straw for the reigning MVP.
Needless to say, the future of one of the NBA's biggest stars is up in the air, and many teams are projected to make a run at him sometime before he signs his next contract.
Giannis doesn't seem much like the "superteam" building type, but if he wants to take the easiest path to a title, signing with the Lakers would be his best bet. In a piece on CBS Sports, Sam Quinn detailed the Lakers' pursuit of the Greek Freak, and how a potential pairing would work, given all the financial limbo that would have to be involved...
"The Lakers have been stealthily recruiting Giannis for over a year. Even as they built a championship contender around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they refused to sign a single free agent to a contract that lasts beyond next season. They signed his brother Kostas to a two-way deal. Their top assistant is Jason Kidd, Antetokounmpo's former coach in Milwaukee. The two were extremely close. Giannis offered to try to save his job after he got fired.
Here's the trouble: The Lakers have almost no way of affording him. Let's say their cap sheet includes nobody except James, Davis and the dead money left over from Luol Deng's deal. Assuming LeBron and Davis are at their maxes, that's still over $81 million on the books. They could pursue a sign-and-trade ... but with what assets? Kyle Kuzma isn't going to be the centerpiece of a Giannis trade. New Orleans has all of their draft picks. The Bucks wouldn't cooperate. Without space, the Lakers have no leverage to force them to.
The path here, essentially, relies on LeBron, A.D. and Giannis all taking pay cuts. That’s not exactly likely. LeBron, a former NBPA vice president, has made a point of always taking the max since 2014 so other superstars wouldn’t be pressured to sacrifice. Davis and Giannis are both in their primes and have both already lost money due to the virus. They aren’t taking cuts for this.”
The thought of a Giannis, LeBron, and A.D. trio is absolutely insane and would be horrifying for all the other 29 teams. They'd be the NBA's new superteam and arguably more unbeatable than those Golden State squads everyone hated a few years ago.
Of course, we'd be lying if we said this was a likely scenario. As Quinn pointed out, the only way for it to work would be if all three players took a pretty sizeable pay cut. Considering their talent level, and the current financial difficulties of these times, that seems highly unlikely.
But a man can dream, right? If there is one thing Lakers Nation is good at, it's aiming for the stars when they've already got the moon.