Could the Golden State Warriors one day be the jersey that Giannis Antetokounmpo wears? It’s certainly a long shot, but it’s a long shot that the team is already beginning to look at.
I can promise you, furthermore, that the Warriors have internally mused about a run at Giannis — however futile it may prove to be — in the event they can’t convince Kevin Durant to re-sign this summer. Trying to sign the most attractive free agent available is on the first page of the Golden State owner Joe Lacob’s playbook.
Antotokounmpo - who is averaging 27.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, despite only turning 24 a few months ago - would certainly be a ridiculously good fallback plan in the event that Durant packs his bags this summer or next summer.
Of course, it’s never that simple. And because the Warriors will surely almost be over the cap, or quite near it when Antetokounmpo’s free agency approaches, they wouldn’t be able to sign him outright.
Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic detailed how the Warriors could bring the three-time All-Star to the Bay. Long story short: It will take a lot of weird maneuvering, but it’s not impossible.
Of course, the Warriors discussing Antetokounmpo isn’t exactly news - every team does due diligence and the Warriors are especially interested in finding a way to get any and all great players. It’s why they also have had internal discussions about Anthony Davis.
The biggest stumbling block for Golden State may not be the tricky fiscal maneuverings, but the fact that the Greek Freak may want to re-sign with the team that drafted him. Prior to last year, there were warning signs in Milwaukee when Antetokounmpo suggested that the Bucks would have to field a contending team or he would start looking for a new home.
In the year since the Bucks have acquired Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic, seen Khris Middleton blossom into an All-Star, and signed an elite coach in Mike Budenholzer. As a result, the Bucks entered the All-Star break with the best record and net rating in the league, and look like a formidable contender for years to come.
Antetokounmpo clearly loves the city, and now they seem to have the type of team to entice him, too. It’s very possible that in the summer of 2020 he signs the maximum extension that Davis recently told the New Orleans Pelicans he’d be unwilling to sign.
But until then, the Warriors will continue to have discussions, just in case he’s ready to move on, and just in case Durant goes in another direction.
The chances of seeing Antetokounmpo wear a Warriors jersey are very, very slim, but it’s abundantly clear that the franchise will do whatever necessary to try and stay among the league’s elite.