Although it won’t be another year or so before he could officially enter free agency, much has been said about Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the possibility that he might end up with another team after the 2020-21 NBA season. The Toronto Raptors are among the teams that have been linked to the 2019 league MVP so far, and a recent report suggests that the organization does indeed have plans to chase for him next summer.
In his preview of the 22 teams that will be heading to Orlando, Florida, next month to resume the currently on-hold 2019-20 season, ESPN‘s Tim Bontemps wrote that it is “no secret” that the Raptors are interested in signing Antetokounmpo as a free agent next year.
“Another deep playoff run would add to the sales pitch,” he continued. “In the shorter term, the Raptors will have to decide what to do with several key free agents this summer — led by guard Fred VanVleet and big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.”
As explained separately by Bleacher Report, the Raptors have an edge over most of the teams that could theoretically pursue Antetokounmpo next summer due to all the salary-cap space they may have available to spend. Star power forward Pascal Siakam is the only Toronto player who will be under a guaranteed contract after the 2020-21 campaign, while reserve guard Norman Powell will have a chance to opt-out of the final year of his contract, which will pay him $11.6 million in 2021-22.
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Expounding on Bontemps’ expectation that the Raptors’ playoff success could determine their chances of landing Antetokounmpo, Bleacher Report pointed out that the team was able to defeat the Bucks in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals and has, quite notably, remained one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference despite losing Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time the NBA paused operations in March, Toronto’s 46-18 record was good for second place in the East, right behind the 53-12 Bucks.
Aside from the Raptors, there have been a few other NBA teams that have been rumored to be interested in signing Antetokounmpo, whose averages of 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists put him among the favorites to win this season’s MVP award. Last month, reports suggested that the Golden State Warriors see the “Greek Freak” as the “ideal superstar” to take over from erstwhile top player Stephen Curry. Likewise, rumors have hinted that the Miami Heat could make an attempt to sign Antetokounmpo next offseason as they have him team up with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to form a new “Big Three.”