But according to a league source, the Warriors have been preparing for years to make a bid for Antetokounmpo.
Of course, every team wants Antetokounmpo. But many teams – believing they have no chance of acquiring him – won’t make a legitimate effort to get him.
But so much had to go right for Durant to come – especially the 2016 cap spike coinciding with Durant’s free agency. Odds are strongly against lightning striking again with Antetokounmpo.
Obviously, this entire discussion becomes moot if Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee this offseason. If he doesn’t, the Bucks should at least consider trading their superstar before 2021 unrestricted free agency. They’d get incredible offers – better than the theoretical offer commonly discussed for the Warriors (Andrew Wiggins and picks).
Wiggins’ contract didn’t suddenly turn into a positive-value deal just because he’s in Golden State. Yes, the Warriors 2020 first-round pick will be high in the draft, and they got a lightly protected first-rounder from the Timberwolves for D'Angelo Russell. But those picks are a pittance compared to what the Lakers just dealt for Anthony Davis and what the Clippers just dealt for Paul George. Antetokounmpo is better and younger than both.
Even if he doesn’t sign the extension, Milwaukee doesn’t have to trade Antetokounmpo at all. Keeping him for next season would offer another opportunity to win a championship and deepen his bond to the franchise. The Bucks could offer more money than other teams in free agency.
If it gets that far, Golden State would have a tough time opening max cap space while keeping intact the appeal of its roster. The Warriors’ best bet is trading for Antetokounmpo. Again, that’s unlikely.
Antetokounmpo is worth planning ahead for. The Warriors have shown the vision and competence to execute bold plans. If Milwaukee doesn’t win enough, Antetokounmpo could bolt.
But don’t take this for more than what it is: A ginormous longshot Golden State is trying to upgrade into a big longshot.