The pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks organization been cranked up considerably after an early playoff exit. They are now two years removed from winning a championship and have only won one playoff series since. As we explained when the Bucks nearly lost Brook Lopez in free agency, the Bucks’ window could be closing faster than we think. The top starters around Giannis Antetokounmpo are all in their early-to-mid 30s and the team is limited in assets to significantly improve the roster around him.
Antetokounmpo seems well aware of all these factors after making a series of comments this offseason regarding his future, starting with not planning on extending with the Bucks this offseason. He is extension-eligible from September 22 through the day before the start of the regular season, but can only add up to three years by extending now. Even if he plans on getting a new deal with Milwaukee, it makes more sense to do it next season when he can add up to four years.
Antetokounmpo further fueled speculation earlier this week on his future when he said that he would be open to better opportunities to win a championship outside of Milwaukee. Whether Antetokounmpo truly has a wandering eye or not, he is finally starting to apply pressure on the Bucks’ organization. His contract situation with only one year left before he can opt out and become a free agent in 2025 should give Milwaukee a strong sense of urgency.
Although the Bucks still have time to make things work, the rest of the league is keeping an eye on the situation. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently discussed Antetokoumpo’s comments with Ramona Shelburne and believes the Bucks actually might trade Antetokounmpo instead of playing things out through his free agency. Lowe also added that interested teams are probably holding onto their assets in anticipation of a trade request.
They went on to list teams they could see eventually getting in the mix for Antetokounmpo in a trade. Below is a ranking of those teams based on how realistic their chances are of successfully acquiring him.
The Miami Heat have been linked to Antetokounmpo as a potential destination should he have made it to free agency. As of now, there is momentum for them to acquire Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers. If they successfully acquire him, they won’t have enough assets to make a suitable trade offer for Antetokounmpo.
The Los Angeles Lakers are short on trade assets at the moment since they owe two first-round picks to other teams. They also don’t have any players with substantial trade value outside of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves. The Lakers’ strongest point of leverage would be their ability to sign Antetokounmpo outright in 2025 free agency if James is no longer with the team by then. If Antetokounmpo signals a desire to join the Lakers as a free agent, that could motivate the Bucks the preemptively trade him there.
The Magic have several talented young players to offer and enough players on short contracts to give the Bucks immediate cap flexibility. They also have all of their own first-round picks, allowing them to offer a maximum of four. However, would they be willing to trade one of Paolo Banchero or Franz Wagner? The inclusion of at least one of those players may be needed to motivate the Bucks to move him there.
The Golden State Warriors have had reported interest in Antetokounmpo as far back as 2019 when they still had Kevin Durant. Their only way to pair him with Stephen Curry is through a trade since they do not project to have cap space anytime soon. The Warriors can offer a combination of Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and first-round picks in 2026 and 2028, and pick swaps in between. They could also offer Klay Thompson or Draymond Green, but the Warriors may prefer to keep them in Golden State until the end of their careers.
The Toronto Raptors have been linked to Antetokounmpo as a potential 2021 free agency destination prior to extending with the Bucks. They have all but one of their own first-round picks over the next seven drafts. They also have several great starters like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby who could be valuable for Milwaukee or be rerouted for other assets. They also have Scottie Barnes but they may prefer to pair him with Antetokounmpo if possible.
The Brooklyn Nets have a surplus of nine first-round picks over the next seven drafts, most of which would serve as the foundation of an Antetokounmpo offer. The Nets are motivated to compete now since they owe multiple unprotected first-round picks to the Rockets, so they could be looking to cash in on most of those now for star power. As mentioned by Lowe, the issue with the Nets as a destination is that they may not have much left around Antetokounmpo if they acquire him, especially if they have to trade Mikal Bridges to get it done.
The New Orleans Pelicans ranked fourth in HoopsHype’s trade asset rankings with their surplus of first-round picks and promising young talent. They have one of the best individual players to offer in Zion Williamson who, if healthy, would give the Bucks a replacement star to look forward to. As mentioned on the Lowe Post, they also own the Bucks’ 2027 first-round pick and pick swaps in 2024 and 2026. Getting control of their own draft would be valuable for the Bucks so they could potentially bottom out for a high lottery pick.
The Oklahoma City Thunder ranked first in HoopsHype’s trade asset rankings for a second consecutive year. They have enough picks and talented young guys not only to acquire a player like Antetokounmpo but potentially a second elite superstar as well. If he is open to playing in Oklahoma City, they would be able to build a strong contending roster around him, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and their young group.
The New York Knicks have been holding onto their assets in anticipation for a star trade. They can trade up to eight first-round picks, which include four of their own and four owned by other teams. As mentioned in the Lowe Post, one of those is the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick. Along with draft equity, the Knicks also have several talented young players they could offer such as RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes. They could also offer All-Star Julius Randle or reroute him to a third team to bring more assets to Milwaukee.