REPORT: Warriors to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo if Kevin Durant departs

While it’s easy to focus on the Warriors immediate goal of winning a 2019 NBA championship, there are many who are focused on what the future will look like for the franchise. The team has a number of huge decisions to make this summer about personnel, and those decisions will ultimately affect what they can do beyond this summer.

After the summer of 2019, the summer of 2021 could be the biggest for the Warriors yet as All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes an unrestricted free agent. And if you don’t think that the Warriors have an eye out for Antetokounmpo and aren’t, at the very least, looking at all possible ways in which they can bring him in for the 2021-22 season and beyond, you’re crazy.

While Antetokounmpo heading to San Francisco is indeed a possibility, the Warriors are absolutely going to pay for it. There are a few stipulations that would have to happen first, though. Kevin Durant has to leave this summer and Draymond Green’s extension either has to end following the 2021 season, or he’ll have to have one year left, making his contract more tradable to clear up cap space — and they’re going to need a lot of it, according to The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson.

Curry is due to make $45.8 million in 2021-22. When he hits free agency in July 2021, Giannis would be set to sign a max deal that starts at $42.6 million. That puts their combined number over $88 million. The current salary-cap projection for 2021-22 is $123.9 million.

So those two would eat up more than 70 percent of the cap by themselves. If, as expected, he signs a max extension with the Warriors this coming July, Thompson would be on board for $37.9 million for 2021-22, which would put the Warriors very near the projected cap number with three players.

All of this, of course, is predicated on the idea that a) Antetokounmpo isn’t in a position to win with the Bucks between now and that summer and b) if he’s not in that position, he wants to sign with the Warriors.

Antetokounmpo has said on numerous occasions that he wants to lead a team to a title on his own terms and has refused to work out with current NBA players over the summers as a way to separate himself from the idea of forming modern super teams. A lot can change between now and 2021, and the mounting pressure and desire to win could overcome Milwaukee’s inability to put a winning team around him.

He’s in a very good place right now, though. The Bucks have the best record in the NBA and Antetokounmpo is either at or near the top of everyone’s MVP ballot. The East is very top heavy, but a playoff series against Boston, Toronto or Philadelphia will be a challenging one despite the Bucks playing the best basketball of the regular season.

There are a lot of moving parts and a tremendous number of variables that need to play out perfectly for the Warriors, but they’re planning for the opportunity.

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