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If Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes free agent, Raptors reportedly will be ‘chief pursuer’

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 08: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks watches from the bench as teammates finish off the Boston Celtics at Fiserv Forum on May 08, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks defeated the Celtics 116-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Most likely, Giannis Antetokounmpo never sees the free-agent market and all this talk is moot.

Team executives around the league say they expect the reigning MVP k will sign a super-max contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks next summer and stay put. The Bucks are a contending team and the only home Antetokounmpo has known in the United States — and the only place he has ever been able to live safely with his family in his life.

But he keeps leaving the door open — as he did that at the end of last season and maybe again speaking a Harvard University professor, although he denied using those words — so other teams are watching the situation and keeping their options open. Franchise changing players entering their prime rarely become available, and teams want to be prepared just in case.

At the front of that line may be the Toronto Raptors, something John Hollinger mentioned in a column about Toronto’s plans at The Athletic.

Oh, and did I mention — there is one giant, long-armed Greek shadow looming over every decision this franchise makes. Sources say the Raptors are likely to be one of the chief pursuers of Giannis Antetokounmpo if and when he hits the 2021 free-agent market, so any moves that eliminate the possibility of max cap space that summer would be extremely unlikely.

The Raptors are not alone, the Warriors are reported to be interested, and frankly, 27 other teams would be as well. The 2021 free-agent market already looks to be stacked — Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James, Rudy Gobert, all could be available that summer — and even in that group Antetokounmpo would be the biggest prize.

For Toronto, an international city, Antetokounmpo — who grew up in Athens — is the kind of personality who might choose to go there (a choice elite American-born players don’t view the same way). This would be the rare chance to land a top-flight free agent, something normally reserved for the biggest brands in the game.

If Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent. Which he probably will not.