Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Portland Trail Blazers?
A whole lot of people seem to be excited about the possibilities of last season's NBA Most Valuable Player and this year's Defensive Player of the Year somehow ending up in a Trail Blazer uniform this offseason.
But they need to calm down. There are a lot of very good reasons it’s not going to happen and the first of those is that he is not showing signs of being one of those players who is looking to shop himself to a contender.
To his credit, the player they call “The Greek Freak” is saying a lot of things that Damian Lillard has said over the years, about not wanting to leave his team or city. He talked to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes about a possible departure:
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo told Yahoo Sports after the Bucks were eliminated in five games in the second round by the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
“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.”
First, let’s understand that the Milwaukee Bucks' star is not a free agent. He still has a year left on his contract and there is talk that the Bucks, given their lack of playoff success, might fear they could lose him to free agency after next season if they can’t get him signed to a supermax contract this offseason.
Thus, they would want to deal him now rather than take a chance of losing him and getting nothing in return after next season.
OK, that said, let’s take this thing piece by piece:
- Do you think the Trail Blazers have enough inventory to be able to give the Bucks in exchange for Antetokounmpo? Obviously, Portland wouldn’t part with Damian Lillard -- so what Trail Blazer package would Milwaukee believe is worth their young star? I’m not sure Portland has enough to interest the Bucks -- if they even want to make a deal.
- I don’t think Milwaukee is going to trade him this summer. The smart move is to play it out -- take one more season with him and see what happens. And besides, trading a player of his magnitude almost always turns out poorly for the team that moves him. You really can’t ever get full value for an MVP-caliber player and you are more likely to have to take some bad contracts in return that cripple any rebuilding effort. The Bucks might be better off to gamble on keeping him and if he leaves, at least know they have cap space to begin a rebuild.
- The financial bottom line still favors the original team. He can sign a supermax extension with the Bucks that will pay him more than he could earn from other teams, but estimating the exact dollar figures now, with no knowledge of what the salary cap will be after this strange season, is futile.
- I think it would behoove any team in Milwaukee’s position to do all it can to give a player of this stature his best chance to win -- and that includes finding another coach or general manager, if it's necessary.
- This whole situation is just one more product of the silly idea of judging a player's greatness by how many championships he has won. It has prompted the concept of superteams and pushed players toward major markets, which tampers with competitive balance. And it discourages loyalty to teammates and franchises.