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Report: Heat positioning to chase Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021

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Miami is reportedly saving 2021 cap space to make a push for the “Greek Freak,” with Victor Oladipo as the back up plan.

Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Giannis Antetokounmpo has quickly developed into one of the most dominant players in the league and looks to be well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Given the chance just about every team in the league would empty their roster and give up everything short of the training staff and mascot to secure his services. However, it seems that the Miami Heat feel advantageous about the prospect of luring 2018’s MVP from Milwaukee, as Antetokounmpo becomes an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of next season.

The Heat and team president Pat Riley know a thing or two about chasing big fish. In the summer of 2011 the organization made a series of strategic moves that positioned them to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh in a coup that sent shockwaves across the league and resulted in two championship banners.

Back then, the Heat were lucky enough to already have a bargaining chip in Dwyane Wade. Wade and James were childhood friends and maintained a close relationship throughout the early years of their career. This time around there aren’t any connections with roots that deep tied to the Heat organization.

LZ Granderson: The NBAs transition from marketing superstars to super teams C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Pat Riley had this to say, “We’ve done this four times now, had a good group of players, young players, and then either through free agency or through trade brought the superstar in.” If the opportunity should present itself and Giannis gives Miami his ear there’s none better to make a pitch than Riley. A legendary figure in the NBA who can drop his many rings on the table, look a player in the eye and reassure them that he knows how to build a champion.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says, “Miami wants to preserve max cap space that summer for a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo or, secondarily, a few other targets including Victor Oladipo.” The Herald reports that Miami is actively reserving space to make a run at the “Greek Freek.” Earlier this year ESPN mentioned Miami in an article about the possible future destinations for Giannis.

Giannis has been with the Bucks since 2013 when he was drafted in the 1st round, 15th overall. After blossoming into arguably the best player in the game there’s no doubt the pursuit for Antetokounmpo will be one of the most aggressive in league history. Although he’s been non-committal thus far, there’s still a good chance he remains with Milwaukee. Miami putting together an attractive roster and staying financially flexible can’t hurt matters.

Although Victor Oladipo isn’t the player that Antetokounmpo is, he’s still established himself as a star and game changer in this league and has continued to get better year after year. The Indiana product has been named an All-Star in back-to-back seasons. It’s important to note that Oladipo will command less on the open market than Giannis allowing Miami to keep more of its core intact.

In short order, Miami has done a fantastic job of team building. The organization has two players currently competing for rookie of the year honors in Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro along with ascending 2018 draft pick Bam Adebayo and of course the unquestioned alpha dog Jimmy Butler. Perhaps the budding roster, championship pedigree, tropical weather and lack of state income-tax can prove enticing for Giannis Antetokounmpo come 2021.

There’s still plenty of games to go before Giannis even has to think about whether not he should leave Milwaukee but the rumor mill and speculation machine will continue to churn until that time comes — unless he makes a statement that cements his future with the Bucks. Given Miami has the cap space and winning DNA, they should be on the shortlist of destinations if Giannis decides to leave town.