It has been a quiet NBA offseason thus far but things will start to heat up soon. One of the biggest offseason questions is whether two-team league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign a super-max contract extension with his Milwaukee Bucks. There’s a school of thought that if the Freak doesn’t, it could mean that he’s considering leaving in free agency after next season.
Bucks | 2020 NBA Expert Analysis
Thus, should the Bucks actually consider dealing him if Giannis doesn’t sign on the dotted line? Apparently that’s not the plan as the Bucks will try to improve their roster and use the next year to show Antetokounmpo why he should stay long term. Giannis has said many times that he has no intention of leaving and that he will not demand a trade.
“It’s not happening. That’s not happening,” Antetokounmpo said recently. “Some see a wall and go in [another direction]. I plow through it. We just have to get better as a team, individually and get right back at it next season.”
In addition, waiting would give Antetokounmpo maximum leverage over Milwaukee over the next 12 months. The Bucks have had the NBA’s best record in each of the past two seasons only to come up short in the playoffs. There’s no clear path to getting better via trade because Khris Middleton isn’t going anywhere and guys like Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo are the top assets on the roster. That’s not saying much. Milwaukee does have the Indiana Pacers’ No. 24 overall pick in this year’s draft but the Bucks don’t own their No. 30 pick due to previous deals.
This year, the draft will take place on Nov. 18, which is the latest in the calendar a draft has ever been held. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the top pick by virtue of winning the 2020 Draft Lottery back in August.
Milwaukee is +800 at Mybookie to win next season’s NBA title.
Will Pacers Trade Oladipo?
Perhaps no team has a more muddled future right now than the Indiana Pacers as they still haven’t hired a head coach to replace the fired Nate McMillan and reportedly have made former All-Star guard Victor Oladipo on the trade market.
It is believed that former New Orleans Pelicans assistant Chris Finch is considered the frontrunner for the Pacers coaching job. Finch’s coaching resume has drawn comparisons to Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Nurse even worked as an assistant on Finch’s British national team staff. Finch, who started his coaching career in Europe, has been an assistant coach with the Rockets, Nuggets, and Pelicans in the NBA. He is highly respected around the league.
If Finch is so respected, why don’t the Pelicans just hire him for their coaching spot?
As for Oladipo, he’s looking for a max contract this offseason and is ready to move on from the Pacers, after both sides failed to agree on an extension last summer. The Knicks may have interest in Oladipo, but commanding a max salary from any team may be difficult. Oladipo has played only a combined 55 games over the past two seasons. He averaged 14.5 points on 39.4% shooting this year, including 31.7% from deep.
Oladipo made his return to action in January after missing nearly a full year due to a ruptured quadriceps tendon, and the four-month hiatus did more harm than good when it came to his shaking off the resulting rust. Knicks GM Scott Perry, drafted Oladipo when he was with the Magic.
Oladipo is believed to want to land with the Miami Heat. The biggest hesitation from Miami’s perspective is whether Oladipo can reach his All-NBA-level play from the 2017-18 season. In January 2019, Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee — an injury that kept him out 371 days. In the Pacers’ sweep at the hands of the Heat in the restart, Oladipo wasn’t the dynamic scorer he used to be.
The Heat don’t want to commit a ton of money, either, as Antetokounmpo and Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo share the same agent and may want to team up in Miami starting in the 2021-22 season. Oladipo is not a free agent until the end of the 2020-21 season, which means Miami would likely have to part ways with some of its assets to bring him in for next season.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers also have been linked to Oladipo. L.A. could trade someone like Kyle Kuzma and its 2020 first-round pick. Oladipo would give LeBron James and Anthony Davis a third All Star running mate who would add another layer to their offensive attack.
The Lakers have opened at +350 to repeat as NBA champions next season at Mybookie.ag.
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