It would go without saying that there are 30 teams in the league that would love to have Giannis Antetokounmpo on their team. A clear top-five player in the league, even with the still in development jumpshot, the reigning MVP will have his pick come 2021 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That said, not all teams will have the combination of cap space and teammates to truly intrigue Antetokounmpo. The Miami Heat are one of those teams that have both and according to Ethan Skolnick of the Five Reasons Sports Network, going after Antetokounmpo may be the plan.
The Miami Heat are building a team for Giannis to love. @5ReasonsSports
— Ethan J. Skolnick of @5ReasonsSports (@EthanJSkolnick) November 21, 2019
Rumor: Miami Heat Building a Team for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021
As mentioned before, going after Antetokounmpo is kind of a no brainer move. There’s really no need to dive into the why behind adding a then 26-year-old MVP level player with room to grow. The focus here will be on the feasibility of the idea.
First, Antetokounmpo would have to be willing to leave the Milwaukee Bucks, the franchise that drafted him, and made him into a superstar. Throughout his career, he’s always shown love and admiration for the Bucks. Even as early as last summer, he declared interest to stay with the Bucks for 20 years. The caveat, though, was that this all stems from the organization willing to continue to push for championships. A few wrong moves, like the Eric Bledsoe extension or letting Malcolm Brogdon walk, could start planting doubt in their ability to build a contender around Antetokounmpo.
Should he decide to leave, he’ll obviously want and deserve a max contract. From there, teams start falling out. For Miami, though, the timing couldn’t be better. Next summer Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard come off the books for a combined $31 million. In 2021 the contracts for Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk end freeing up an additional $41.5 million. If more is needed, there’s a $13 million team option for Justise Winslow in 2021. With a potential $85.5 million available over the next two summers, the Miami Heat will have plenty to resign key players and still have a max slot available for Antetokounmpo.
Making a Team for Giannis Antetokounmpo
If he wants to leave, the Heat will have the cap space to sign him. While the idea of living in South Beach might appeal to most players, Antetokounmpo seems focused most on competing for a championship. The last hurdle then is having a team he would want to play for, one that can contend for a title with him. In that regard, Miami has already started laying down the groundwork this season.
Antetokounmpo is at his best when he’s surrounded by shooters, giving him the space to bulldoze to the rim and score with his strength and length. Miami has young shooters still on the rise and under cheap team controlled contracts for years. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn are both rookies lighting it up from deep and playing heavy minutes. Duncan Robinson is also a young sharpshooter that hustles hard and is filling in a starter role with Justise Winslow currently out. Winslow has improved shooting from deep, though he’s struggling with his shot this season. By 2021, the Heat will boast a young group of sharpshooters well equipped to surround Antetokounmpo.
Beyond just sharpshooters, Miami boasts other players to complement Antetokounmpo. They’ve already got a two-way second superstar in Jimmy Butler. Butler has been doing it all for the Heat this season, from defense to playmaking to scoring. They’ve also got Bam Adebayo, a young center developing into a two-way star. A multi-positional defender and lob threat, Adebayo has been growing as a playmaking center this season. Winslow has already shown a knack for playmaking and made his name defending. In Miami, Antetokounmpo would have plenty of defenders and playmakers around him as well as shooters.
There’s still almost two full seasons before the summer of 2021, but until then teams are going to speculate and build around the idea of landing Antetokounmpo in free agency. The safe bet still seems to be that he stays in Milwaukee. If he decides to look around, the Heat should be on his shortlist of destinations. They’ll have the cap space, the players, and the championship pedigree to ensure Antetokounmpo competes for a title.
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