Knicks rival being listed as “dark horse” for Giannis Antetokounmpo is a joke

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

Giannis Antetokounmpo caught the attention of the entire NBA when he said he would consider leaving Milwaukee in an interview with The New York Times. If the two-time MVP requests a trade before he can enter free agency in 2025, the New York Knicks shouldn’t hesitate to make a deal.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Knicks and Lakers are expected to be the top two teams to interest Antetokounmpo (subscription required) if he does decide to part with the Bucks. New York shouldn’t be counted out of the rumors, even though the organization has a murky past with superstars.

An anonymous NBA executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney he doesn’t believe the Knicks’ draft assets are enough to acquire Antetokounmpo. Because of the 28-year-old’s familiarity with small-market teams, the executive listed the Thunder, Spurs, and Raptors as dark horses to land the star.

"“I think you can’t rule out those kinds of teams,” the executive said. “Giannis has always carried himself like he is all about winning, like that is what matters most to him. He is a little different. I mean, that is the reputation, anyway. If that is really the case, then wouldn’t he want to go play for (Gregg Popovich), play alongside Wemby there? If Toronto can give up only one of its guys and brought back Giannis? They would really have something there.”"

NBA executive lists Knicks’ division rival as “dark horse” to get Giannis Antetokounmpo

During the 2013 NBA Draft, the Raptors tried to trade up to select Giannis Antetokoumpo, who was picked No. 15 overall by the Bucks. In November of last year, Antetokounmpo was a guest on Serge Ibaka’s “How Hungry Are You?” show, and he said he wouldn’t consider playing for Toronto.

He could change his mind down the road, but since he said he’d leave the Bucks if they weren’t in a position to win, why would he want to go to the Raptors? If Antetokounmpo were traded, he wouldn’t get to choose where to go, but the choice would be his if he declined his player option in 2025 to become a free agent.

Toronto finished No. 5 in the East in 2021-22 with a 48-34 record and secured the last play-in spot this past season with a 41-41 record. The Raptors lost Fred VanVleet this offseason for nothing in free agency after not trading him in February, but still have key players such as Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby.

If Antetokounmpo were to hit the trade market, Masai Ujiri would try once again to get him, but the chances of that happening seem slim.

There’s no guarantee Giannis Antetokounmpo will go to the Knicks, whether via trade or in free agency, but New York should have a higher shot at getting him than Toronto.