Every NBA Team's Best Giannis Tampering Strategy in Orlando
Goal No. 1 of every team in the NBA bubble should be to win a championship.
Goal No. 2 should be to try to tamper the hell out of Giannis Antetokounmpo's looming trip to free agency, raving about how great their franchise is and casually asking what his plans for 2021 are.
While the Milwaukee Bucks have the upper hand to keep the MVP and free-agent-to-be after next season, failing to win a title this year or in 2021 could change things.
For star players who will come into contact with Antetokounmpo at a game, on the golf course or at the Gran Destino Tower where the Bucks are staying in the Disney World resort in the Orlando, Florida, area, they need to work quickly before their team is eliminated from the playoffs.
Of course, not all pitches will be equal.
Sorted into tiers, here's where all 22 teams likely fall in their quest to woo Antetokounmpo, and the tampering pitch each should use.
Hey, Giannis! Disney's pretty great, huh? Imagine skipping the long plane rides and just jumping in the car for a short drive anytime you and the family need an Animal Kingdom fix. Your son, Liam, would be thrilled, right?
As for basketball, well, there's not technically a need for another power forward on the roster, and the backcourt is admittedly thin.
Maybe Markelle Fultz can turn into a star, and Nikola Vucevic made an All-Star team once and will be under contract until 2022-23. That spark your interest at all? No? Did we mention Disney World is right down the road?
Sure, we haven't made the playoffs since 2006, but we made it to the bubble! That counts for something, right?
De'Aaron Fox will be a star, and we'll probably re-sign Bogdan Bogdanovic in restricted free agency this offseason (depends on the price, of course; he's no Harrison Barnes!) If you truly feel like you deserve the crown, what better team to play for than the Kings?
San Antonio Spurs
OK, so it may seem like the Spurs dynasty is dead and the team's about to miss the playoffs for the first time in 23 years, but think of this as a reload instead of a rebuild.
Gregg Popovich has agreed to coach into his 80s if you sign here, and at least one of Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV and Derrick White should turn into a star, right?
We'll also have the cap space to sign another superstar, if, you know, you can help recruit one here.
Now Hear Us Out...
OK, so Indianapolis isn't a typical free-agent destination, but we're about 4.5 hours south of Milwaukee, so you're technically moving to a warmer climate.
We've got two All-Stars, and you already know how talented Malcolm Brogdon is. Imagine the defensive potential of a frontcourt with you and Myles Turner protecting the rim, as well.
We're the only other Central Division team in this bubble, a group you've dominated with a 13-1 record this year. Rebuilding is never an option here, and we haven't won fewer than 32 games in a season since well before you were born.
We're admittedly not making the playoffs this year and haven't since 2010, but the future is eternally bright here in Phoenix.
Our core four of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. have registered a net rating of plus-11.6 when on the court together, meaning we just need that All-Star power forward like yourself to push us over the edge.
Booker has been studying footage of Scottie Pippen on YouTube in his room for weeks and is willing to become your wingman if you move here. It's also like 70 degrees here in the winter, so you'll feel like you're on vacation all the time.
Look, we like Rui Hachimura, but if you agree to come to the nation's capital, we'll send him to the bench quicker than John Wall used to go coast to coast.
Speaking of Wall, he'll quickly get his name back in the "best point guards" conversation next season with two healthy Achilles tendons. Bradley Beal will still be under contract for 2021-22 and is one of only two players in the NBA who's scoring more points per game than you.
Cap space might become an issue with Wall and Beal making nearly $79 million between them, but we'll gut the rest of the roster if we have to. I mean, with you, Wall and Beal, who else do we really need?
Starting to Warm Up
Oklahoma City Thunder
If you think the present is good here in OKC, just imagine how great our future will be.
No team has as many upcoming first-round picks, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already becoming a star in his second year. Steven Adams has volunteered to be your personal bodyguard, and he has an amazing tattoo guy he can hook you up with.
Remember when we were picked to finish dead last in the conference before the season? We've been in playoff position essentially all year, a testament to our great young core, coaching staff and culture that you could thrive in here.
What team can offer you two better young players to chase championships with? Ja Morant is easily winning Rookie of the Year, and Jaren Jackson Jr. can do everything but rebound, so he won't steal any of your boards.
Chris Vernon has promised you a job on his radio show whenever you retire, and there's already a petition to change Beale Street to Antetokounmpo Avenue.
New Orleans Pelicans
OK, so the positional fit isn't great with Zion Williamson already filling power forward, but you can play center, right?
Big things are happening in New Orleans. Just picture Lonzo Ball throwing you full-court lobs and Jrue Holiday joining you on the All-Defensive team. Our VP of basketball operations, David Griffin, built a championship roster around LeBron James, and he can do the same for you.
Also, do they have beignets in Greece? Because, buddy, if not, you're missing out. Cafe Du Monde is already offering a lifetime supply for you and your family, and we promise to look the other way during team weigh-ins.
Utah may not seem like a premier free-agent destination, but there's no denying the talent already on this roster. We'll be looking to give Rudy Gobert another long-term deal as well, and the two of you can battle it out for Defensive Player of the Year every season.
Donovan Mitchell is already an All-Star, but to be honest, we're not sold on his potential as a No. 1 on a championship team. We know you can fill that role, and Mitchell will be perfectly happy handing over the keys to the franchise to you. At least, he better be.
We've already begun the concept for your statue outside the arena and think it will fit nicely between those of our former greats, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Tempting, Need to Clear Cap Space
Let's be real: If you come to Boston, it's over for the rest of the Eastern Conference. By the start of the 2021-22 season, we'll still have Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart under contract, and we fully expect Jayson Tatum to agree to an extension as well.
If we're being honest, our power forward situation isn't the best, but what team has a better collection of guards and wings? Cap space could be an issue, we admit, but that's a bridge we can cross later.
One quick question, though: Does that 1971 championship banner ever get lonely hanging by itself in Milwaukee's arena? Because the 17 in the TD Garden rafters keep one another company quite nicely.
Two superstars are nice, but we all know that Big Threes win championships. Come to Brooklyn, where we've already got Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who have played the lead and supporting roles on title teams. Let's be honest: Both would benefit from being around your joyful demeanor as well.
We'll even let you pick the head coach of the team right now so he can start drawing up a game plan for you in 2021. You want to play for Jason Kidd again? You got it. (You don't, right?) Tyronn Lue? Say no more. We'll even drag Kenny Atkinson back kicking and screaming if that's what you want!
But please, kindly let us know if you're seriously thinking about Brooklyn. With over $142 million already committed to the roster for the 2021-22 season, we're going to have to shed some serious money to get you that max deal.
The NBA's leader in player efficiency rating paired with the most analytically driven franchise over the last decade—what could be a better combo than that? Seriously, our front office ran the numbers, and we can't find anything.
Putting you with James Harden means bringing together the Nos. 1 and 2 players in PER, win shares, VORP, box plus-minus and fouls drawn. Imagine: You're spacing the floor in the corner while Harden dances with his defender. You watch as he eventually crosses him over, crosses back and fakes a drive before hitting a step-back three as the shot clock expires. Think of how much energy you could conserve!
Throw in Russell Westbrook; how many other teams can offer the chance to put three MVPs together? We'll have to find new homes for Eric Gordon and Robert Covington to make the money work, but you'd be willing to take a little less since there's no state income tax in Texas, right?
It doesn't matter that we handed out $300 million in contracts to power forwards last summer and then moved our All-Star point guard to the same position; we'll make room for you!
Think about it, no more tangling with Joel Embiid in the paint. No more playoff battles with Al Horford. No more pure, unconditional love from fans. Wait, scratch that last one.
With two All-Stars age 26 or younger in Ben Simmons and Embiid, so what if there's already $147 million on the books for 2020-21? I'm sure Horford will rework his contract. Or Tobias Harris. Or Embiid. Or Simmons. Actually, would you consider the mid-level?
Tired of watching Eric Bledsoe fall apart in the playoffs? Want an upgrade at the point guard position? Luka Doncic will soon become the NBA's best floor general, if he hasn't already. If you're putting up nearly 30 points per game with Bledsoe getting you the ball, imagine what you could average with passes firing from Luka's hands.
Kristaps Porzingis has graciously volunteered to move to center full time, and we plan on reaching out to Dirk Nowitzki from his retirement village in Florida to check his interest in becoming our new shooting coach.
Mark Cuban is willing to spend whatever it takes to get you here, including approving whatever future business ideas (terrible or not) you'd like to bring on Shark Tank.
With Paul Millsap now 35 and about to hit free agency, the best Western Conference team not in L.A. has an opening at power forward.
No center in the NBA will hit you with pinpoint passes like Nikola Jokic can, and his brothers are willing to become your personal shoppers and bodyguards.
You'll get used to the elevation in Colorado, and Denver has loads more days of sunshine per year than Milwaukee. Win a championship, and we'll carve your face into any mountain of your choice.
Portland Trail Blazers
If Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are good enough to get to the Western Conference Finals, imagine what adding an MVP like yourself could do?
We just got Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back from leg and shoulder injuries, respectively, and both Lillard and McCollum are under contract until 2023-24. Unlike other teams that can offer young prospects and potential, we have one of the NBA's best backcourts ready to win right now.
If you're concerned about shots, Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony will both be long gone by 2021, and we'll get the small forward spot figured out before you get here. Ignore the 29-37 record for now; you simply have to come try some Voodoo Donuts.
The Raptors dynasty has already begun. Now prove to all the doubters how much better you are than Kawhi Leonard and come win multiple titles here.
Together with Pascal Siakam, you can prove to the world that two international superstars can be a championship pairing, especially on the only non-U.S. NBA team.
Nick Nurse should be the Coach of the Year, and we're planning on giving Fred VanVleet a new contract this offseason. We already have the second-best record in the East and third-best overall in the NBA after losing Leonard, so picture how good this team could become with you.
It's no secret that we've been keeping our cap space clear for 2021, and you should already be familiar with fellow Octagon client Bam Adebayo.
Look, this roster was basically made for your skill set. Jimmy Butler is the perfect No. 2 for a championship team (but please don't tell him that), and we've put shooters all around in Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Meyers Leonard.
Pat Riley won't just show you his championship rings; you can keep one until you win your own (which we know you will quite soon). We've had some of the greats play here over the past two decades, from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Butler. It's time for you to get out of Milwaukee and experience Heat Culture.
Yeah, Florida may seem great now, but do you really want to experience that humidity all year? Besides, Wisconsin is beautiful in the summer.
You've seen players like LeBron and Kevin Durant turn into villains after jumping ship from the teams that drafted them. Your jersey sales are already near the top of the NBA, and we've gotten the No. 1 seed in the East behind your MVP play for the last two years. You can clearly win and be marketed here.
OK, so paying Eric Bledsoe over Malcolm Brogdon was a mistake, but see how good the Khris Middleton signing is looking now? We could get sappy and pitch you about how a skinny kid picked outside the lottery developed into an MVP, but we've got practice in like 10 minutes, and there's a title to be won.
Los Angeles Clippers
Look, we're posting a plus-19.4 net rating with Marcus Morris Sr. as our starting power forward, and that's with him averaging 9.5 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting. Add in your 29.6 points per contest, and nobody's stopping us.
While other teams can offer Big Threes, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are superstars on both sides of the ball like yourself and in their primes at 29 and 30 years old, respectively. Not only will you guys go for 120 points every night, but we're also confident no one's getting up any easy shots against that defense, either.
Our owner, Steve Ballmer, is kind of off-the-wall, but like the good kind who stands and cheers and goes wild for the arena Dance Cam.
I'm sure the Lakers will contact you as well, but won't it mean more to win a franchise's first championship instead of its 17th?
Los Angeles Lakers
Becoming one of the best players in the league with Milwaukee before coming to the Los Angeles Lakers worked out pretty well for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and we're confident it's a career path that should suit you as well.
Look, LeBron is passing more as he enters his late 30s, meaning he's willing to pass his crown to you. Literally: He keeps a crown near the back of his locker and wears it around sometimes in practice. It's all yours.
Anthony Davis has agreed to play center (unless you really want to, he says), and I'm sure Kostas has already told you how great of an organization this is. We'll even sign Thanasis to a mid-level deal and promise to take Liam in the first round of the 2040 NBA draft. Did we mention we have LeBron?