Giannis Antetokounmpo Rumors: Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, Heat, Mavs Linked

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 119-100. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Mere hours after their playoff exit, the postmortems are being written for the Milwaukee Bucks, and speculation about reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is reaching a fever pitch.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported the Bucks are the "clear favorites" to sign Antetokounmpo when he becomes a free agent in 2021. However, the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks are lining up a possible offer, and the Los Angeles Clippers are considering all of their options in a potential sign-and-trade.

"One of the sources said Giannis has an 'admiration' for Clippers head coach Doc Rivers," O'Connor wrote.

Immediately following Milwaukee's 103-94 defeat to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of their second-round matchup, Antetokounmpo indicated he won't request a trade to expedite his exit.

"It's not happening. That's not happening," he said to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season."

ESPN's Tim Bontemps also spoke to multiple sources who "are adamant that the Bucks won't trade" Antetokounmpo if he doesn't sign a supermax extension.

There's almost no scenario in which dealing the four-time All-Star makes sense for Milwaukee. Even if Antetokounmpo makes it clear he has no intention of re-signing, there's no telling when the Bucks will be this close to a title for the foreseeable future.

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The Toronto Raptors showed how going all-in for one season can be the right approach when you're on the cusp of a breakthrough. They acquired Kawhi Leonard with no reassurances as to his long-term future, and Leonard was instrumental in their championship run.

The big question ahead for general manager Jon Horst is how he supplements Antetokounmpo for next season, since it's abundantly clear the supporting cast needs to improve.

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported some inside the league expect the Bucks to make a run at Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul. Paul would be an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe and give Milwaukee an elite playmaker and leader to ease the offensive load on Antetokounmpo's shoulders.

Then there's the status of head coach Mike Budenholzer, who received more criticism than probably any other member of the organization for his failure to make the necessary adjustments on the fly against Miami.

Horst not only has to weigh Budenholzer's future but also think of any replacements who would better position the team for postseason success.

As O'Connor reported, Antetokounmpo's future isn't a fait accompli. He'll have every opportunity to put pen to paper on a long-term extension with Milwaukee.

But the organization has to operate under the belief the 2020-21 season could be the last in which the generational talent calls Milwaukee home.