Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Miami Heat

How the Miami Heat should respond to Giannis Antetokounmpo signing supermax

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Putting to rest rumors of a possible move to South Beach, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo jolted the NBA world when he announced on Twitter that he signed his 5-year supermax extension with the Bucks, the largest deal in league history, after weeks upon weeks of sitting on it. 

For a while, after all, it seemed like the writing was on the wall. All the signs pointed to the Greek Freak’s departure, the Milwaukee faithful said: his body language was vastly different coming into the season, and he refused to talk about his looming extension, all after the Bucks front office botched a trade that would have landed them sharpshooting swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic

Something had clearly changed. 

At the time, the Miami Heat were reported to be among the frontrunners in landing the two-time MVP and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, along with the Toronto Raptors and the Dallas Mavericks, all strong up-and-coming teams looking to gain the services of Antetokounmpo in their quest for a title. 

It was no surprise, too, that Miami was framed by fans and media alike to be a dream destination of sorts for the Greek Freak. They flaunted a hard-nosed, no-nonsense basketball culture, a litany of capable and competent snipers and strong wing defenders, all coupled with the two-way talent of Jimmy Butler and the playmaking of Bam Adebayo


This, coming fresh off a Cinderella finals run that exceeded all expectations, saw them handily send the Bucks home in five games, and where they fell to the eventual champion Lakers just two wins shy of winning it all. 

The possibility of acquiring the dominant presence of Giannis was precisely why they let go of the steadying defense of Jae Crowder after all to free up cap space. So how does the end of their Giannis dreams affect the Heat?

How does Giannis’ extension impact the Heat?

With one of the most dominant superstars of his generation now locked up for the immediate future, barring a trade, this development now means one of two things for the reigning Eastern Conference champs: a pivot towards participating in the hotly-contested James Harden sweepstakes, or another year of player development in the hopes of landing Bradley Beal next offseason—both of whom the team has shown marked interest in pursuing, and both of whom would drastically improve their odds at another Finals run. 

Let’s break it down. 

To put it bluntly, it’s not looking good for their chances at landing the former MVP. Harden, who has already signalled his desire to be traded despite the addition and potential resurgence of John Wall, has listed Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee as his potential trade destinations. It is unclear where Miami would stand on his list if at all, given the ostensible incongruence between his iso-heavy play style and head coach Erik Spoelstra’s generous and free-moving offense. 


Though Miami’s Pat Riley has the draft assets to land the scoring champion cleanly, he would likely have to give up a budding star in the making like Tyler Herro to make the money work, especially considering that the two play the same position. Whether the Heat are willing to make that investment or not remains to be seen. 

As it stands, Miami’s war chest consists of the following picks:

  1. 2022 first round pick
  2. 2022 second round pick
  3. 2024 first round pick
  4. 2024 second round pick (#31-50)
  5. 2025 first round pick
  6. 2026 first round pick

On the other hand, Houston seems to have every intention of keeping their distressed asset for at least another season as they scour the league for offers with the best value in exchange for their former franchise cornerstone. 

Non-Harden options

Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat had always intended to go after Beal in a trade should the pursuit of #34 fall apart, but Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard for his part has also reiterated that “Bradley Beal’s not going anywhere,” as reported by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. 

Outside of the two likely options, the Heat are still positioned to sign a player in the upcoming 2021 free agency, which includes the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Mike Conley, Andre Drummond and Kyle Lowry

On the court, Antetokounmpo’s extension cements the Bucks at the very least as a perennial playoff contender for the foreseeable future and almost guarantees yearly dogfights between himself and noted “Giannis stopper” Adebayo, who shares an agent with Antetokounmpo and who himself also signed a max extension with the Heat. 

Rebounding from their pursuit of Giannis will sting for a bit given how highly-touted they were, but is nothing impossible for a Pat Riley-led team with, as it is, one of the brightest futures in the league. With or without Giannis, expect the Heat to come out with more fire this season as they fight for another crack at the Larry O’Brien trophy.
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