September 19, 2019
NBA Rumors: Signing Giannis Antetokounmpo Should Be Lakers' 'Plan A' In 2021, Per 'Forbes'

As noted by Bleacher Report last week, Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst suggested that the team is planning to offer superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo a supermax contract extension when he becomes eligible for such a deal in 2020. This kind of deal would lock the reigning NBA MVP in with the Bucks as he reaches the prime of his career and, as far as other teams are concerned, remove him from the potential pool of talent expected to be available in the 2021 free-agency period. However, a new report suggests that this may be especially bad news for the Los Angeles Lakers, as "The Greek Freak" -- and not LeBron James or Anthony Davis -- might be their best hope of winning their next NBA championship.

On Tuesday, Forbes' Gabe Zaldivar predicted that there is a "good chance" the Lakers' current roster will "[fail] spectacularly" as they hope for a return to championship glory, as the 34-year-old James is nearing the twilight of his career and Davis, while only 26, is "fond of racking up minor injuries." Incoming third-year forward Kyle Kuzma was also mentioned as one of the Lakers' top three players at the moment, although Zaldivar warned that it's still hard to predict how well his NBA career will turn out.

With that in mind, Zaldivar wrote that the Lakers have a chance for a "do-over" in the summer of 2021, when the likes of Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Bradley Beal are among the players who could theoretically enter free agency in that year's NBA offseason. As a recent report from The Athletic's Shams Charania hinted at a substantial summer-2021 salary cap increase, the Forbes reporter wrote that Los Angeles will likely be "flush with cash" by that time.

"For the Lakers, there is just one Plan A, luring Giannis and saving the rest of the cap space for Plan B," Zaldivar speculated. "One could argue the Lakers have already started their courtship with their acquisition of Antetokounmpo's brother Kostas."

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks attempts a shot against Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers as Lakers forward Brandon Ingram looks on.
Getty Images | Harry How

As further explained by Forbes' Zaldivar, Antetokounmpo should be the Lakers' "obvious" target in the summer of 2021, given that there's a strong chance he will be the NBA's best player by that time, while still being relatively young at 27-years-old. He added that things might get "a little tenuous" when it comes to the other expected 2021 free agents, as George and Leonard – who have already turned down chances to join the Lakers – will both be in their early 30s. Also mentioned were players like Blake Griffin and Jrue Holiday, who will also be in the same age group by 2021, and Chris Paul, who will be 36 once he becomes eligible once again for free agency.

The Los Angeles Lakers aren't the only team that has been recently mentioned as a potential destination for Antetokounmpo if he becomes a free agent in 2021. As reported on Tuesday by The Inquisitr, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne appeared on The Jump on Monday, where she described the Golden State Warriors as a "big threat" to sign the Greek forward, despite the potential difficulties they may face due to their payroll.