Giannis Antetokounmpo Rumors: Heat, Raptors Likely Front-Runners in Free Agency

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) stands on the court during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Giannis Antetokounmpo free-agency rumors have ramped up with the Milwaukee Bucks down 2-0 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported it's an "open secret" in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, that the Heat and the Toronto Raptors are front-runners to land the reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year when he becomes a free agent in 2021.

The Bucks have lacked answers for Miami's defensive game plan, looking as lost as they did a year ago when the Toronto Raptors employed similar tactics in the conference finals. Antetokounmpo has disappointed, looking befuddled when teams scheme to keep him out of the paint in half-court sets.

Giannis has consistently maintained a desire to stay in Milwaukee. He'll get a chance to prove that this offseason when the Bucks offer him a supermax extension. If Antetokounmpo refuses to sign the contract, it'll be an indication he's open to exploring free agency, at which point the Bucks will have to seriously consider trading him.

The supermax could also be less enticing if the cap is projected to go down because of financial losses from COVID-19. It's a complicated situation that will play itself out through the rumor mill until Giannis gives an indication of how he wants to handle his future.

The Heat have been regularly linked to free agents since pulling off their LeBron James-Chris Bosh coup in 2010. The Raptors have a history of attracting and cultivating non-American talent, and Toronto has a strong Greek population, which could sway the Greek Freak.