In short, you’ve got a Richard Jefferson – Scottie Pippen thing on Twitter (with a legendary Pippen clap-back). Then Jay Williams chimed in and made a LeBron – Wade comparison, so LeBron stepped in to let everyone know he’s “never been nobody but my damn self.” Entertaining, but also raising an important issue. Whatever you think Giannis is, Batman or Robin – can Milwaukee give him what he needs? Before we begin, here’s the play by play.
Jefferson went on ESPN to elaborate his tweet and used several examples that contradicted themselves. He first talked about Kyrie taking the last shot in ’16, which by his logic of Giannis needing “a Jordan,” someone to seal the deal, would mean Kyrie was that for the Cavs – making LeBron Pippen? But later, he would say Giannis can still be the guy, but that he needs someone to take that last shot, be the primary ball-handler at times. Not to spend too much time on this confusing train of thought; one thing crystalized – Giannis needs a better roster around him.
If Giannis doesn’t sign an extension this summer, everyone will start preparing their pitch for Antetokounmpo. But, Milwaukee might follow the modern GM thought and explore trades. If a player says they are going to look around, chances are you are losing him. Why not get a monster package, as OKC got for Paul George? According to reporting by Vincent Goodwill, “many in league circles believe Miami and Toronto are the frontrunners in the Antetokounmpo sweepstakes, with one observer telling Yahoo Sports “it’s an open secret” within the Orlando bubble.”
“If you lose this series, he can’t extend…he can’t.”Brian Windhorst, THe Hoop Collective pod
When you break up with someone, the next person you start a relationship with is the complete opposite of the most annoying parts of your former partner. If Giannis leaves, it will be due to Mike Budenholzer’s stubborn approach to playoff basketball, a baked-in roster without flexibility, and a lack of star talent/potential on the team. That’s why Toronto and Miami are front runners.
Nick Nurse is the most creative coach in the NBA, and Erik Spoelstra is not far behind him. In terms of coaching philosophy, the complete opposites of Mike Budenholzer. Not to mention both Nurse and Spo proved they can get it done on the highest level with superstar talent.
Masai Ujiri is one of the best GM’s in NBA history with a stellar record in drafting diamonds in the rough, making great trades, and signing guys in free agency. Rarely do you have a GM so good at all three aspects of the job. Oh, by the way, Ujiri helped Giannis and his family get Greek citizenship while they were living as illegals in Greece.
Pat Riley. Do I need to elaborate?
We are talking about two of the deepest teams in the NBA with at least one legit NBA star under a long-term contract. Toronto has Paskal Siakam, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Terrence Davis. In Miami, Giannis is looking at Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn. Both sound better than Milwaukee’s current roster – definitely a better fit for Giannis.
This is where things get tricky. Both teams prepared their books to go after Giannis as a free agent. But if Milwaukee makes it known they are willing to listen to offers, Toronto and Miami would need salaries to match. For Toronto, that could only be Kyle Lowry on his last year at $30 million. Miami has Igoudala and Olynik making $27 million combined.
Keep in mind, both teams would then have to add young talent and draft assets to make the deal make sense for the Bucks. But there’s no doubt Ujiri and Riley would find a way to make the numbers work.
This could all be moot if Giannis signs a supermax extension in a few months and commits long term to Milwaukee. But the way the Heat series has been going, that scenario seems less and less likely. These next few games will be the most important in Milwaukee franchise history. Stay tuned.