In order to acquire a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo in a trade, you have to stockpile a lot of valuable assets.
That usually takes time.
Well, the Warriors have been "preparing for years" to put themselves in position to make a bid for the Greek Freak, a league source told Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.
It is well known that owner Joe Lacob always is looking ahead to the future. While the Warriors certainly were lucky that the salary cap spiked in 2016 right when Kevin Durant became a free agent, the franchise had to put itself in position to attract someone of his magnitude.
And when it became clear during the 2017-18 season -- and certainly that summer after the Warriors won back-to-back-titles -- that KD probably was going to leave in the summer of 2019, it's very safe to assume that management began plotting its next move.
In the end, that meant agreeing to acquire D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Brooklyn Nets, which cost the Warriors Andre Iguodala and a 2024 first-round pick.
When things went south this season, the front office traded D-Lo for Andrew Wiggins and also acquired the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2021 top-three protected pick (it becomes unprotected in 2022). That could end up being a very valuable chip in any potential trade.
As for Giannis -- he signed a four-year, $100 million contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks in September 2016. So the whole world knew he would become a free agent in the summer of 2021, with the option of agreeing to another extension in 2020.
Which brings us to present day.
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Everybody is aware that the Bucks will offer the 2018-19 NBA MVP the "supermax" this offseason. If he declines it, the Bucks might be forced to trade him because they don't want to risk losing him for nothing if he walks next summer.
Then again, most people believe Milwaukee will ride it out and hope that if it wins the title in 2021, he will sign the extension at that point. Also, the Bucks might operate under the assumption that if Giannis ultimately decides to leave in free agency, they can work out some sort of sign-and-trade with the team he chooses so they at least get something in return.
Two more things.
No. 1 -- it's safe to assume that the Warriors' dream scenario is that Giannis tells the Bucks this summer he isn't re-signing with Milwaukee under any circumstance, and he demands to be traded to the Warriors. If that very unlikely event comes to fruition, the Dubs simply want to be able to make a compelling offer.
"It's the type of thing with Giannis or any star player -- you need to position yourself to get that guy," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor told NBC Sports Bay Area last week. "And if it happens, great. If it doesn't happen, then move on to the next guy."
No. 2 -- Giannis just might sign the extension with the Bucks this offseason and all the speculation was a waste of time.
But if that happens, Golden State will be in a strong position to pivot and choose its next path forward.