Giannis Antetokounmpo, soon-to-be two-time NBA MVP and leader of No. 1 overall seed two postseasons in a row, has been eliminated from the playoffs alongside his Milwaukee Bucks earlier than expected for the second consecutive season. A year ago, it was Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors to knock him off. This time? The surprising Miami Heat, only a No. 5 seed, took down the (literal and figurative) giant, thanks to their overwhelming shooting and the clutch heroics of Jimmy Butler. To add insult to injury? The only Bucks win came in a game Antetokounmpo exited with an ankle sprain. The honeymoon period in Milwaukee is officially over.
And once the offseason arrives, the clock officially starts ticking. Antetokounmpo now has only a single season remaining on his contract. When free agency begins, the Bucks will offer him a five-year, supermax contract extension, and in all likelihood, he will decline. Barring a major surprise, one of the best players in the NBA is going to enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021 at the age of 26.
Naturally, everybody is going to want him. That statement is literal. In their book, Return of the King, Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin reported that all 30 NBA teams reached out to LeBron James when he was a free agent in 2014, even those that knew they had no chance at signing him. This is standard operating procedure when MVP-caliber players reach free agency, and that is a class Antetokounmpo belongs to. He will be able to play virtually anywhere he wants.
With his free agency only a year away, it’s time to start considering which team he might pick. Giannis himself has been cagey on the subject. Leaks have been minimal. His priorities beyond winning are a mystery. So there will be some guesswork inherent in predicting his likeliest destinations. The following factors were considered in this list:
- Roster. Giannis wants to play with great players, yes, but he has to play with the right kinds of players. He isn’t LeBron James. He is such a specific sort of talent that, as we saw in his early years in Milwaukee, the wrong roster construction can relegate him to mediocrity very quickly. Any team hoping to sign Giannis needs an abundance of shooting, as the Bucks have emphasized over the past two seasons, and a closer who can hit the sort of shots late in playoff games that Giannis hasn’t yet developed. That means mid-range jumpers, pull-up 3-pointers and heavy pick-and-roll usage.
- Coaching. Mike Budenholzer is a two-time Coach of the Year and he just frittered away Antetokounmpo’s best title chance yet on a refusal to make playoff adjustments. Giannis will need to feel comfortable with the coach that he is betting on.
- Money. Giannis deserves a max contract. He’s fully justified in asking for one. Any team pursuing him needs to have a way of giving him one, either through a free agent offer or a sign-and-trade. This is difficult in a normal offseason. With the cloud of coronavirus hanging over the NBA, the cap dynamics are going to be fluid.
- Market. Giannis seems to genuinely enjoy living in Milwaukee. Coming from Greece, it’s the sort of city that could seem fairly cosmopolitan by comparison, and he has roots in Wisconsin, as his younger brothers went to high school in the area. Nothing about Antetokounmpo suggests he’s feeling the pull of New York or Los Angeles, but most superstars do, so it’s a factor that can’t be ignored entirely.
- Relationships. Most superstars are pretty transparent about their friendships in the league. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played footsie for an entire year. But Antetokounmpo is pretty shy about things like that. He doesn’t work out with fellow superstars in the offseason because he isn’t comfortable fraternizing with the enemy. There are a few people around the league he is known to respect, though, so they will play into his decision. We will not, however, consider his brothers. Thanasis currently plays for the Bucks, while Kostas is with the Lakers. The youngest, Alexis, is set to play in Europe next season before entering the NBA Draft. The fact that Thanasis is on his team right now suggests that he likes playing with family, but the fact that Thanasis is on a minimum contract right now is proof that any suitor will be able to land one of his brothers if necessary. Kostas isn’t even on an NBA contract. He has a two-way deal with the Lakers. Giannis is the only star in the family. His brothers will follow him, not the other way around.
- Accessibility. We won’t discount the possibility that the Bucks listen to sign-and-trade offers, but they aren’t going to do Giannis any favors. Any team making this list on the basis of a possible trade needs to have both the cap flexibility to make a deal work and the assets to appease what would certainly be a rebuilding team in a small market. That means draft picks, cap relief and youngsters.
And so, with Giannis now officially playing on an expiring contract, here is where the suitors for one of the greatest free agents in NBA history stand.
When the Bucks lost on Tuesday, Giannis certainly didn’t sound like a player destined for departure. “At the end of the day we’ve got to learn from everything that goes on in your life and in your career and hopefully we can learn from this and get better as a team and come back and hopefully we can build a culture in Milwaukee for many years that we can come out here and compete every single year for a championship,” he told reporters after the Bucks’ Game 5 loss. He then proceeded to shoot down the idea that he would ask for a trade. Giannis, for the moment, seems hellbent on winning in Milwaukee.
The best thing the Bucks have going for them is that Giannis has never displayed much interest in the trappings of stardom. He doesn’t really buddy up to other superstars, and as a Greek citizen, he’s never been infected by the AAU circuit or the rampant tampering of USA Basketball. He doesn’t cameo in movies or emphasize his brand. His celebrity is minuscule compared to his production, and that appears to be a choice. Giannis is driven almost entirely by basketball. He’s only ever played it for one NBA team.
Incumbency is a powerful force, even in this NBA. Milwaukee is the only team with a direct line to Giannis, and this conversation ends with a 2021 championship. The Bucks can ask him explicitly what sort of roster moves he thinks will help get them there. If, for instance, he decrees that the front office acquire Chris Paul to serve as his playoff closer, the Bucks would almost certainly acquiesce. If he would prefer younger teammates and a longer window (which, given the age of his co-stars, Milwaukee doesn’t have right now), the Bucks would shift gears. It goes without saying that Milwaukee will offer him the supermax for five years.
Would they pay the luxury tax? That’s less certain. They certainly should, but haven’t since 2003, when it was far less punitive. Giannis didn’t insist upon Malcolm Brogdon’s return last summer, a choice he likely regrets. “[I] definitely wish he was still here,” Antetokounmpo said in November. Giannis prefers not to interfere with management’s affairs. Until the bitter end, he did not force Budenholzer to play him more minutes in the postseason, saying consistently “I’ll do whatever coach tells me to do.” Milwaukee might have to push to get direct answers out of him, but the rest of the NBA gets only a few days to recruit him directly. The Bucks still have a whole year.
They Bucks have already had seven years with Giannis, and it’s worth noting that, despite this meltdown, they’ve mostly done a good job with them. Again, Giannis is not LeBron James. He was not the prophesized savior of a city or God’s gift to the game of basketball. He was a skinny kid from Greece who fell out of the lottery before Milwaukee scooped him up at No. 15 and helped develop him into one of the best basketball players on Earth. Giannis may not be Giannis without the Bucks. Two-time MVPs don’t exactly grow on trees. Championships are the standard, but an All-NBA teammate, a Coach of the Year winner and back-to-back No. 1 overall seeds are at least evidence that the Bucks are on the right track. They haven’t failed Giannis.
But will he feel that way if they fall short yet again? There’s no way of knowing. The Bucks entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the Giannis sweepstakes. They’re still in front … for now. They have the best chance of any individual team, but after what just happened, the field has crept closer to a 50 percent chance in the aggregate. Drastic changes will be needed to secure a commitment. Moving forward, the Bucks will be held to the same standard as every other team on this list. If they can’t win him a title, someone else will.
If the sole goal for Giannis is to sign with the team that gives him the best chance to win the most championships, he will sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Frankly, it isn’t close. They have by far the best basketball situation to offer.
If any player has a chance to unseat Giannis as the best player of the 2020s, it is Luka Doncic. The two couldn’t fit together better as teammates. Doncic’s playoff chops were confirmed when he took the Clippers to six games and beat them on one of the best buzzer-beaters in recent memory. Kawhi Leonard utterly confounded Giannis in the 2019 playoffs. Luka averaged 31 points and 8.7 assists against him.
The two would fit together wonderfully as teammates. Dallas just posted the most efficient regular-season offense in NBA history, thanks to Luka’s preternatural ball-handling instincts. He is likely the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the NBA already, and will only get better. Where Dallas struggled was defense, ranking 18th on the season. The Defensive Player of the Year would help on that front. The lone concern would be shooting, as Doncic, for all of his gifts, made only 31.6 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. That doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Luka falls in the James Harden camp of deflated 3-point shooting, where his percentage falls because of the degree of difficulty on his shots and the free-throw hunting he does on them. Nobody sags off Luka.
Pretend for a moment they did. So what? Look at the rest of the Dallas roster. Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber are both among the best shooting big men in basketball. The double-drag pick-and-rolls Doncic could run with one of them popping behind the arc as Giannis rolled to the basket would be unguardable. Dallas took the second-most 3-pointers in basketball this season and made the 10th-highest percentage of those attempts. The Mavs’ starting point guard is a Curry. Of course, they can shoot. Rick Carlisle teams always can. You know the old adage that jump-shooting teams don’t win championships? Carlisle is the one that disproved that in 2011.
The finances are easy enough to work out due to Doncic’s ultra-valuable rookie contract. He’s only on the books for approximately $10.2 million during the summer of 2021, and the Mavericks only have around $84.1 million committed with most of their role players locked into team-friendly contracts. Against the originally projected $125 million 2021-22 cap, they’d already have max cap space. Even if it freezes at the current $109 million total, moving a role player or two for Giannis’ sake wouldn’t be difficult. The worst-case scenario would likely be stretching Dwight Powell’s contract. Something tells me that’s a sacrifice Dallas would make.
So what are the concerns? They’re minimal, but they exist. For one, many two-time MVPs wouldn’t feel comfortable joining a player like Luka. It would mean accepting being the second-most popular player on his own team, a fate that drove Kevin Durant to Brooklyn, but it would also mean sacrificing touches. As a power forward, Giannis already gets fewer than most players of his ilk. Injuries are a concern as well. Porzingis has had several. Doncic’s ankles have been slightly troublesome.
But no destination offers greater superteam potential than Dallas. Giannis will be 26 next summer. So will Porzingis. Doncic will be 22. That trio, if healthy, could reign as a decade-long dynasty. No other team offers that sort of promise.
Masai Ujiri lost his first superstar when he wanted to go home. There would be a special sort of poetry to him landing Giannis, then, because the Toronto executive helped the Antetokounmpos settle in their home years ago. According to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, Ujiri, who is heavily involved in Basketball Without Borders and is of Nigerian descent, helped the Antetokounmpo family emigrate to Greece from Nigeria. He reportedly tried to trade up in the 2013 NBA Draft to pick Giannis. He failed then. He’ll get his shot again in 2021.
The Raptors will have the raw talent to earn an audience with Giannis. Pascal Siakam is an All-NBA player. Fred VanVleet is growing into one of the better all-around point guards in the NBA. Toronto’s player development program is unmatched. VanVleet and Terence Davis were undrafted. Siakam and OG Anunoby came late in the first round. Kyle Lowry was barely a full-time starter when the Raptors got their hands on him. Now he’s headed for the Hall of Fame.
But Lowry is 34. Marc Gasol is 35. Serge Ibaka is 30. None of them is signed beyond next season. Neither is VanVleet, though a hefty contract extension is incoming. That shouldn’t limit Toronto’s ability to get to max cap space. The Raptors currently only have around $46.5 million committed for the 2021-22 season. But there is going to be plenty of roster turnover in the meantime. Some might be needed. Siakam hasn’t yet made a single field goal in clutch situations in this postseason, per NBA.com. He and Giannis play the same position. There are fit issues here. Nick Nurse is a coaching wizard, but without the sort of closer Toronto had in Kawhi a year ago, recruiting Giannis won’t be easy.
But if there is any executive Giannis will feel comfortable entrusting his prime to, it will be Ujiri. No matter his roster concerns, he’d be joining an organization with perhaps the best coach and GM in basketball. The Raptors would figure it out. They always do.
When kids want to scare each other, they tell ghost stories. When small-market GMs want to scare each other? They tell Pat Riley stories. We’ve all heard the spookiest. Riley walks into a room with an MVP, pulls out a small velvet bag, and drops its diamond-studded contents onto a table. Superstars desperate for a single championship ring suddenly have nine staring them in the face. He has so many of them that he literally gave one to Chris Bosh as a keepsake in 2010. He’s been doing this dance for decades. There is not a more terrifying recruiter on Earth than Riley.
The question financially isn’t whether the Heat can afford a star free agent. The question is whether or not they can afford two star free agents. There are dozens of possible Miami salary permutations, and the one it pursues will depend on the coronavirus’ impact on the cap. If the Heat want to strip the roster down to the studs, they can keep just Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson on the books for around $65 million, once you factor in Ryan Anderson’s dead money. That’s not two max slots, but it’s one and some change. There are sign-and-trade scenarios that get them to two, provided they are willing to pay the tax and give up some of their young talent. The Victor Oladipo rumors have only intensified since Miami swept Indiana. They could also keep most of the gang together, sign Giannis, and then flank him with some role players of his choosing. Erik Spoelstra will make it work. He certainly did at Milwaukee’s expense in Orlando.
The question here is fit. Adebayo has made five career 3-pointers. Butler only made 29 this season, and he’s 30 years old with some injuries to his name. Teams can maybe get away with two non-shooters in their starting five, but three? Giannis would be driving into a wall on every possession.
It’s what makes the Oladipo rumors so strange. Putting aside his injury risk, his 35 percent 3-point shooting is below league average, and his ball-handling and perimeter defense would be somewhat redundant with Butler in tow. Unless Oladipo is the player he was in 2018, paying him four times as much as Herro and Robinson’s cap hold combined seems nonsensical. Including the two of them in a starting lineup with their three stars is probably the only way to offset that trio’s shooting deficiencies. Trading one or both in the series of moves necessary to fit the two All-Star free agents would be counterproductive on that front, especially with no more cap space to sign replacement shooting.
But bet against Riley at your own peril. His track record as both a recruiter and roster builder is historic. Whether it’s Oladipo, another star or a collection of role players, Miami will be able to present Giannis with a championship-caliber roster and organization. The Heat are neck-and-neck with the Raptors for the top non-Dallas threat to Milwaukee, with only two factors keeping them in the No. 4 slot. The first is Toronto’s lack of non-shooters. Their spacing is easier to conceive. The second is pride. Giannis has now lost to both franchises in the playoffs, but at least in Toronto’s case, it came against a different iteration of that team. They are legitimate threats, though. This is the cut-off between serious contenders and fringe possibilities.
Giannis would probably be very interested in playing for the Warriors. If his ideal team is one that spaces the floor for him as much as possible, the Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson duo would be his perfect teammates. In as much as he maintains relationships with opposing stars, he and Curry have a friendship. They both picked the other No. 1 overall in All-Star Drafts during their respective captaincies. They’ve spoken respectfully of each other in the past.
But Golden State’s path to actually acquiring Giannis would be overwhelmingly difficult. It literally cannot create max cap space around the Curry-Thompson pairing. The two of them are on the books for a staggering $84.6 million in the summer of 2021. Even if the Warriors dumped every other player on their roster, Incomplete Roster Charges would rob them of max space. They could trade Thompson, but how appealing would Curry alone be, especially if the rest of the roster was depleted? Draymond Green isn’t a draw for Giannis. They do many of the same things and Green can’t shoot.
Giannis has only one path to the Warriors: a trade. Golden State has some pieces. The rebuilding Bucks would surely have interest in whoever Golden State picks No. 2 this offseason, provided it keeps the pick, and Minnesota’s protected choice next season is valuable as well. Andrew Wiggins could serve as matching salary. But the Warriors have another obstacle to overcome, and it’s one they’re familiar with after their D’Angelo Russell experience this season, and that’s the hard cap.
Acquiring any player through a sign-and-trade, no matter that player’s salary, creates a hard cap $6 million above the tax apron. This season, that figure was $138.9 million. Even with a frozen cap, a max contract for Giannis would start at $32.7 million, bringing the trio up to $117.3 million. If the cap goes up, the apron will, too, but so will Giannis’ salary. In other words, Golden State would likely have only a pittance to build around its incredible trio. Say goodbye to Draymond, at the very least.
So realistically, for the Warriors to land Giannis and build a champion around him, they’d have to avoid that hard cap. Doing so would mean trading for Giannis before his contract expires. In other words, they’re hoping the Bucks decide to deal him in the offseason or at the trade deadline. While highly unlikely, it’s not impossible, and if they do, the Warriors jump up on this list significantly. But the odds are extremely slim, and that has Golden State firmly outside of the top four.
The Lakers have been stealthily recruiting Giannis for over a year. Even as they built a championship contender around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they refused to sign a single free agent to a contract that lasts beyond next season. They signed his brother Kostas to a two-way deal. Their top assistant is Jason Kidd, Antetokounmpo’s former coach in Milwaukee. The two were extremely close. Giannis offered to try to save his job after he got fired.
Here’s the trouble: The Lakers have almost no way of affording him. Let’s say their cap sheet includes nobody except James, Davis and the dead money left over from Luol Deng’s deal. Assuming LeBron and Davis are at their maxes, that’s still over $81 million on the books. They could pursue a sign-and-trade … but with what assets? Kyle Kuzma isn’t going to be the centerpiece of a Giannis trade. New Orleans has all of their draft picks. The Bucks wouldn’t cooperate. Without space, the Lakers have no leverage to force them to.
The path here, essentially, relies on LeBron, A.D. and Giannis all taking pay cuts. That’s not exactly likely. LeBron, a former NBPA vice president, has made a point of always taking the max since 2014 so other superstars wouldn’t be pressured to sacrifice. Davis and Giannis are both in their primes and have both already lost money due to the virus. They aren’t taking cuts for this.
Especially since LeBron would be 36 at the time, and neither he nor Davis are elite shooters. The trio, as talented as it would be, makes little sense together. The roster would be devoid of shooting with no realistic way of finding it. It’s a fun thought exercise, and the Lakers have certainly telegraphed their interest, but this just doesn’t make enough long-term basketball sense to justify passing up the more immediate fits elsewhere. The Lakers are in the running because they’re the Lakers, but they’re not true threats unless those pay cuts materialize and they find some way to space the floor for bargain-basement prices.
7-8. Atlanta Hawks/Phoenix Suns
Nobody expected Durant and Kyrie Irving to sign with Brooklyn. After five years in the gutter, the 2018 Nets were hardly appealing to free agents. But years of building yielded a single playoff appearance in a desirable market, and that was enough to sway two superstars. That, essentially, is the argument for the Hawks and Suns. They’ve both been bad for years, but with one playoff appearance, they become significantly more appealing.
Devin Booker is as perfect a co-star for Giannis as could exist. Trae Young isn’t far behind, though his defense will always be problematic on the playoff stage. Both have a deep stable of young, cheap wings to supplement them. Both play in desirable markets. Players tend to love Atlanta. Arizona has no state income tax.
Atlanta has the edge over Phoenix for now based on one thing: flexibility. The only non-rookie deals on their books for the 2021-22 season are Clint Capela, an easily movable starter, and DeWayne Dedmon, an expiring contract. If Atlanta chooses not to extend John Collins, it could fairly easily enter free agency with Young, its other youngsters and two max slots. Giannis surely wouldn’t mind bringing a friend to his new home. Phoenix can get to one max slot pretty easily but has little flexibility beyond that. Both are theoretical trade destinations for another star.
But “theoretical” is the best descriptor for either destination, because to this point, neither core has reached the postseason. Atlanta has a slightly easier path by virtue of playing in the Eastern Conference, but Giannis won’t consider either unless the Suns or Hawks take meaningful strides next season. The onus is on them to do so. Unless either truly pops, both will probably be on the outside looking in, but just as the top tier consists of four teams, so too does this second tier. The Hawks and Suns already have compelling cases. The teams beyond them do not.
The New York market, in itself, is not going to impress Giannis. What the New York market can do for him as a recruiter? That could be another story. If there is another 2021 free agent he is dead-set on playing with, New York, as a city, is more likely to be attractive to that co-star than, say, Milwaukee. The Knicks have the money to make that work. They owe Julius Randle $4 million in guarantees and still have over $6 million charged to Joakim Noah’s stretched deal, but otherwise, they have nothing but rookie deals on the books. The Knicks are, mostly, a blank slate.
That’s their sole appeal, because very little of the current roster fits with Giannis. RJ Barrett, while theoretically a high-level individual scorer, had an uneven rookie season that included little development as a 3-point shooter. Mitchell Robinson is never going to shoot outside of the paint. He just broke Wilt Chamberlain’s field goal percentage record by exclusively dunking. The Knicks could draft shooters between now and 2021 free agency, but such young players are unlikely to appeal much to veteran stars. They could trade for another veteran star, but that would deprive them of their cap flexibility.
But the big market + two max slots formula has worked wonders in the past, even if not for the Knicks. They have a path to Giannis, even if it involves a number of factors well outside of their control. They should be considered extremely unlikely candidates who are, in truth, at least multiple seasons away from truly appealing to superstars.
No, the current iteration of the Clippers is not going to land Giannis. The Thunder own all of their trade assets, and once they re-sign Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris this offseason, they are going to vault into the luxury tax for as long as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George remain.
Those two are the lone reason the Clippers get a listing here. They are both 2021 free agents, and if, for whatever unforeseeable reason, they decide to leave? The Clippers are suddenly in a fairly similar situation to where they were in 2019. They’d lack star power, but they’d be one of the smartest organizations in basketball while occupying the NBA’s best market. Assuming they could clear the cap space, superstars would want to play for them. Giannis alone wouldn’t replace Leonard and George. If he could bring a buddy? Now we’re talking.
But Leonard and George aren’t leaving barring something completely unforeseen, so this is likely moot. We’re just being thorough. If the Clippers become a viable destination, Giannis will do his due diligence.
11-13. Oklahoma City Thunder/New Orleans Pelicans/Minnesota Timberwolves
The final teams that get a write-up are not truly in the conversation. They have given no indication that they want to pursue a superstar in 2021, and even if they did their markets make it extremely difficult for them to do so. No, Giannis probably isn’t going to choose to spend his prime in Minnesota, but let’s game this out a bit.
New Orleans has a fairly clean long-term cap sheet. Oklahoma City can get there if it trades Paul this offseason. Minnesota wouldn’t be able to create max cap space, but with a No. 1 overall pick in its back pocket, it has the foundation of a viable trade offer if Giannis tells Milwaukee he’s out either way. Minnesota already has perhaps the perfect front-court partner for Giannis in Karl-Anthony Towns. New Orleans and Oklahoma City, replete with assets, could fairly easily trade for a fitting sidekick (say, Bradley Beal, if he is available). All three have attractive young talent. They’re all forward-thinking organizations that would properly surround Giannis.
Look, it’s not likely, but superstars aren’t exactly logical. The world thought Jimmy Butler was crazy for signing with a lottery team. He looks pretty smart now. If Giannis keys in on Towns as his preferred partner, or decides to join the team that acquires Beal, or even that he just really liked Zion Williamson or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (as ill-fitting as either would be). There’s a shred of hope here. When I say shred, I mean something in the neighborhood of 0.01 percent. When you have the young talent and trade assets these teams have, you get a couple of paragraphs. That is all. None of them are in the running yet.
Unranked due to difficulty of acquisition
“Difficulty” of acquisition is a somewhat unfair grouping. Some of these teams, like Utah, actually have no method of acquiring Giannis without gutting the team that might attract him in the first place. Others have paths. If Milwaukee accepts that Giannis is leaving and cooperates on a sign-and-trade, some of these teams have viable offers. If Giannis wants to play with Jayson Tatum, Boston could gut the roster to accommodate him. Jaylen Brown would be a nice building block for Milwaukee. So would Michael Porter Jr. But neither the Celtics nor the Nuggets have displayed any interest in going down that path. They haven’t preserved cap space or hoarded trade assets. They’d be interested in Giannis, but they don’t seem interested in doing what it takes to get him … for now. If he went to either Boston and Denver and said “I want to be here, make it happen,” we’d be having a different conversation.
The Rockets are out. They don’t have nearly the assets to dump their bad contracts, and Milwaukee would have little interest in what they have. Portland is in the same boat. CJ McCollum is a nice player, but he’d be nearing 30 by the time this deal would need to happen. He makes little sense for Milwaukee unless it is determined to continue winning on some level.
A Philadelphia deal would be counterproductive. Giannis would fit as poorly with Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid as they currently fit with one another. Brooklyn would be incredibly fun, but there’s just no way Milwaukee would accept Caris LeVert as the centerpiece of such a deal, and it would likely encounter hard-cap issues in a sign-and-trade anyway. So while some of these destinations could possibly be fits, right now, the actual acquisition process is too difficult to imagine to have them in the running. Maybe that changes.
Unranked due to lack of talent
There is one 2019 All-Star in this group: Domantas Sabonis. Bradley Beal is the only other immediate star in this group. Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox are going to get there, but as shaky shooters, neither particularly fits with Giannis anyway. These are the easiest teams to cross off. They just aren’t good enough to recruit a player like Giannis. If it’s any consolation, some of them have bright futures anyway.