The Los Angeles Lakers had all the cards in order to land Giannis Antetokounmpo next summer, but he has decided to leave them in the dust.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was set to be the crown jewel of the 2021 summer. Not often do players of his caliber become unrestricted free agents, especially at his young age. Giannis has quickly developed into one of the best players in the NBA with a very legitimate case for being the best player in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers were all ready to enter into the 2021 Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes, but it appears that they, along with a multitude of other franchises, have been shunned out.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Milwaukee Bucks have signed The Greek Freak to a five-year super-max deal that is valued at $228.2 million. This contract is the biggest in NBA history.
While it has been well-documented that Giannis Antetokounmpo has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Milwaukee and wanted to stay a Buck if all things went in his favor, there were a lot of details that needed to be ironed out.
The Bucks needed to bring in some additional help and they did that after grabbing Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Bucks figure to be in the thick of the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference this season.
Now, how does this affect the Los Angeles Lakers? As I mentioned, the Lakers have been preparing for the Giannis sweepstakes years in advance of next summer. Rob Pelinka specifically made moves — like signing all players to two-year deals last summer — to keep flexibility in case Giannis wanted to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
The Lakers were already deemed long shots to land Giannis Antetokounmpo after doling out a sizable long-term contract to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and trading for Dennis Schroder. The Lakers also inked Anthony Davis to a full term max contract instead of the one-plus-one deal that was originally being explored in the event that Giannis would not sign a super-max deal.
This affects the Lakers’ plans for next summer, but given that they already had a core that won the title, they are just fine. In fact, they added supplemental pieces like Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol to cement their ‘best team in the league status’.
Just like the Lakers did not need Kawhi Leonard to win the NBA title, they do not need Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both of the men I just named are amongst the game’s top tier talents, but the Lakers already have two men in that tier on the roster.
Giannis was always a pipe dream for the Lakers and their fans, but it would have been a fun sight to see as the Lakers would be putting three of the best five players in the world in their starting lineup each night.
The Lakers can stand pat and remain contenders going forward. They are still in excellent shape and figure to be for quite some time. When LeBron James’ contract is up after the 2022-2023 season, mega-stars like James Harden and Kevin Durant as well as stars like Nikola Jokic and Bradley Beal will become free agents.
Maybe they will be the next crop of players the Los Angeles Lakers will fawn over.