7. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is widely seen as a guy following the steps of Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant — greats that became legends playing for only one team. However, he recently left the door open for a change.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Antetokounmpo said, “Winning a championship comes first. I don’t want to be 20 years on the same team and don’t win another championship.“
As much as he isn’t talking about simply leaving to a bigger market, that comment should be a wake-up-call to the Milwaukee Bucks’ front office. Giannis isn’t settling for anything less than greatness, even if that means leaving the franchise he loves.
For now, the Bucks have their main core under contract. Basically that same team — with a different coach — secured the first seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Their problem is how old that foundation is.
Between Jrue Holiday (33), Khris Middleton (32) and Brook Lopez (35), Antetokounmpo’s best teammates are all on the other side of 30 and showing signs of regression.
Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo, 28, still in the best-player-of-the-league discussion and thirsty to capitalize his prime years into NBA titles. Milwaukee will have until 2025 (when his contract is no longer guaranteed) to figure out a way to show their superstar how serious they are about winning with him. That can be a tricky task when your main assets are in their mid-30s, you’re limited to only a few first-round picks, and playing in a small market city that isn’t accustomed to luring top free-agents.
Giannis might not ask for a trade if the Bucks can build a contender around him for a second time. Otherwise, they could see arguably the best player in franchise history walk out of the door when his contract runs out.
Potential destinations: LA Clippers/Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Brooklyn Nets