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Lakers, Knicks possible destinations for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he leaves Bucks

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Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks possible destinations for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he leaves Milwaukee Bucks
USA Today Network

The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are potential destinations for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo if he decides to ask for a trade or declines his 2025-26 player option worth $51.93 million.

In December 2020, the two-time MVP signed a five-year, $228.2 million contract extension with Milwaukee. His multi-year deal includes a 15% trade kicker.

Last week, Antetokounmpo told the New York Times that he is focused on winning another championship and wants to make sure the Bucks are willing to go all-in before considering an extension in Milwaukee.

Referring to a couple of NBA betting sites, the Los Angeles Lakers hold sixth-shortest odds to win next season’s championship in 2024. Check out which sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat.

“The Lakers and the Knicks are already being mentioned as franchises presumed to interest Antetokounmpo down the road if he does decide to move on from Milwaukee, which just made a slew of moves (re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez and replacing Mike Budenholzer as coach with Adrian Griffin) to try to appease its face of the franchise,” wrote NBA insider Marc Stein.

Antetokounmpo earned $42.49 million last season and is slated to make $45.64 million in 2023-24. He becomes eligible for a three-year, $173 million extension on Sept. 22. The 2021 NBA champ has spent his entire 10-year career with the Bucks.

Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks are potential suitors for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo if he requests a trade or decides to opt out of his contract

Antetokounmpo loves Milwaukee. However, a coaching change could lead the 7-footer to ask for a trade. Former Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was fired by the organization on May 4 after top-seeded Milwaukee lost to the No. 8-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

On June 5, ex-Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin became the Bucks’ 17th coach in franchise history. If things begin to go south under Griffin, at some point Antetokounmpo could want out.

Although the seven-time All-Star is locked in for the foreseeable future, the NBA is a business. In July, the Bucks re-signed forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ older brother. The 6-foot-6 wing revealed in a recent interview with BasketNews that he nearly signed with the Knicks last month.

“Close. Obviously, Giannis is my brother, and obviously, I love Milwaukee,” Thanasis said when asked how close he was from leaving Milwaukee for New York. “I love Milwaukee. But at the same time… I want to play. You always want to play and feel important.  And at the same time, you want, like… It’s just because of how I am as a player.”

Nonetheless, it would take something drastic for Giannis Antetokounmpo to leave the Badger State. The five-time All-Defensive member appeared in 63 games with the Bucks in the 2022-23 season, averaging a career-high 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game.

The Greek Freak was the only player to receive a unanimous All-NBA First-Team selection in the 2022-23 season, became the first player over the last 50 years to receive this honor by a unanimous vote in five straight seasons

In Milwaukee’s 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards on Jan. 3, 2023, the forward scored a career-high 55 points in 37 minutes of action. He finished 20-of-33 (60.6%) shooting from the floor and 15-of-16 (93.8%) at the foul line.

Furthermore, in the Bucks’ 150-130 win over the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 23, the Greek Freak scored 20 of his 29 points in the opening quarter. It was his first game back after missing five straight contests due to sore left knee.

Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player to record 20 points on 100% shooting from the field in a single quarter since Glenn Robinson in 2000 against the Celtics.

The 2021 NBA Finals MVP led the league in free throw attempts (772) last season and usage percentage (38.8%). Plus, the wing finished fifth in points (1,959), ninth in total rebounds (742), seventh in free throws (498), 11th in defensive win shares (3.7), third in defensive box plus/minus (2.7), and second in defensive rating (107.8).

Additionally, the Greek star was the only player in 2022-23 to be named unanimous All-NBA First Team. He also became the first player over the last 50 years to receive this honor by a unanimous vote in five straight seasons. Of course, the forward received all 100 first-place votes.

If LeBron James continues playing for the Lakers, maybe the 20-year veteran will team up with Antetokounmpo in the future. A number of NBA fans cannot picture the Bucks star in a Knicks uniform.

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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