The times we’re in are wild, y’all. People are holed up, trying to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, and many of us just have too much time to kill. It’s said that idle hands are the devil’s playthings, and few have had hands more idle than Warriors fans:
The Warriors could make a pretty interesting trade offer for Giannis this summer if he doesn't sign an extension in Milwaukee https://t.co/mlmYpO46DR pic.twitter.com/0FtWK8cJ0A— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 3, 2020
Light-years ahead, indeed. But, and maybe this is the cabin fever talking, what if it’s not as crazy as it seems?
LeBron James left Cleveland. Anthony Davis left New Orleans. Kawhi Leonard left San Antonio and Toronto. Top tier guys do move on, for a litany of reasons, but the common denominator is that their current team doesn’t align with what they value in a franchise. Does Giannis Antetokounmpo value what the Milwaukee Bucks are putting together?
.@Giannis_An34 to @pconnaughton on the difference between the 15-win @Bucks and now:— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) May 21, 2020
"The biggest difference is the organization. We've created an organization with a winning mentality. That's what I wanted to be a part of since day one."
...okay, so the answer is a pretty emphatic “yes,” but that doesn’t fit my narrative so we’re gonna ignore it.
It is currently within the realm of possibility of our pre-apocalyptic hellscape that Giannis ends up wanting out of Milwaukee, so I decided to get ahead of it. This project took hours of research, as I went through the rosters and assets of each and every NBA franchise that has eyes on the Greek Freak. That is to say, each and every NBA franchise. These are the best trade packages I could come up with. So without further ado, here we go...
In exchange for Giannis, Milwaukee receives...
Trae Young, obviously. But while a Steph Curry clone is an interesting player, Trae isn’t enough on his own, and neither is any collection of players on the Hawks roster. Picks are nice too, but let’s see... Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics, which is a pretty nice get for Milwaukee. It’s also the home of notable artists like Outkast, so we’ll take them too. Waffle House is based out of Atlanta, and while I don’t want to betray my heritage (RIP George Webb’s), Waffle House is straight-up iconic.
Final package: Trae, the ‘96 Olympics, Andre 3000 and Big Boi, and Waffle House
General manager Danny Ainge has been waiting for this moment ever since he gathered a treasure trove of assets (and largely failed to use them on anything). Jayson Tatum might be their best player, and Kemba Walker is a lot of fun, so we’ll take them. Toss in Tacko Fall too, because of the marketing opportunities. Boston is also steeped in history, so we’ll just relocate the Boston Tea Party to Bradford Beach. Harvard University has a bit more cache than Marquette, so toss that in the bag. Lastly, the Dropkick Murphys must rewrite that one song featured in ‘The Departed.’
Final package: Tatum, Kemba, Tacko, the Boston Tea Party, Harvard University, and “I’m Shipping Up to
What a trendy pair of stars you have, Brooklyn! It’d be a shame if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were shipped to Wisconsin, a la Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in ‘Dogma.’ But the more I think about it, Kyrie is too weird and Durant too petty, so instead we’ll take back Spencer Dinwiddie and his pending BitCoin fortune. Brooklyn also has the legacy of Biggie Smalls, so we’ll take him, and the Brooklyn Bridge would make a nice replacement for the Hoan Bridge. Figure it out, hipsters!
Final package: Dinwiddie, his BitCoin scheme, the Notorious B.I.G, and the Brooklyn Bridge
...I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot to like in Charlotte. I guess Devonte’ Graham and P.J. Washington from the current roster, and maybe Hornets-era Baron Davis. Apparently Charlotte is also the second-largest banking center in the US (home to Bank of America and Wells Fargo), which is neat. This is a pretty weak package, even for this article.
Final package: Graham, Washington, young Baron, all the banking
Michael Jordan. There are tons of other things to consider, but nothing would irk Milwaukee’s neighbor to the south than the idea of the Greatest Of All Time (to most, at least...) being ripped from their memory and planted firmly in the Cream City.
Oh, and he has to apologize for being so mean to Jerry Krause. He won’t do it, but it would be hilarious.
Final package: Jordan, and one sincere apology from MJ to Jerry Krause.
Where do you start?
Final package: bleh, I can’t even fake it with Cleveland
LUKAAAAAAAA. If the Bucks have to ship out one European superstar, Luka Doncic is as close to a consolation prize as it gets. He’s just so much fun, you guys! We’ll also take Mark Cuban’s hit series ‘Shark Tank,’ and Dallas claims to be the birthplace of the frozen margarita, a factoid I don’t believe but hey, if they can trade it, Milwaukee will take it. But on top of all that, Dallas has...
Final package: Luka, Boban Marjanovic, ‘Shark Tank,’ the frozen margarita
People love Nikola Jokic, so he’s in. Michael Porter Jr. might end up being a star, so he’s in too. Outside of basketball, Denver also has the Rocky Mountains...I don’t know where we’re gonna put them, but sometimes you have to make it work when it comes to a major mountain range. Furthermore, the state of Colorado has benefited greatly since they legalized (and regulated!) marijuana, so Wisconsin is gonna get that too. Think of all the tax revenue!
Final package: Jokic, Porter Jr, the Rocky Mountains, and legal weed
Tony Snell! Brandon Knight! Thon Maker! John Henson! Christian Wood! The nostalgia alone makes this an intriguing trade partner, and honestly the former Bucks on the Detroit roster are among the most promising talents anyway. Beyond that, the American auto industry is based in Detroit...eh, on second thought, do we want American-made cars? We need to go back in time to make this work. Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, all good players, but what I’m after is the moniker: “Bad Boy Pistons” just doesn’t have the same oomph that the more-alliterative “Bad Boy Bucks” has.
Final package: Christian Wood, Bucks nostalgia, a superior nickname
Golden State Warriors
I can’t come up with a joke better than this:
Final package: hard pass
I know I’ll set everyone into a tizzy if I suggest James Harden, so we’ll stay away from him. Beyond that, the Rockets have noted Giannis fanboy Hakeem Olajuwon, so he’s a must-have. On top of that...NASA. All of NASA. The rockets, the shuttles, the control center, the museums, all of it.
Final package: prime Hakeem, and NASA
None of the Pacers’ players interest me. Nothing in Indiana interests me. I guess Larry Bird came from Indiana.
Final package: prime Larry Bird, and Indiana has to develop something interesting
Los Angeles Clippers
Obviously Kawhi Leonard has to come back, as does Patrick Beverley (for the entertainment value). Then we have two big things that make Los Angeles desirable: the weather and Hollywood. And beyond that, you have the birth of gangster rap with NWA, and legally we can claim every act that spawned from the early 90s group (Dr. Dre’s solo career, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, etc.)
Final package: Kawhi, PatBev, Southern California weather, Hollywood, and NWA (including all subsequent artists derived from NWA)
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers, they’ve had it all, for a long long time. So if they want to poach another superstar, I want it all in return. I want Kobe (RIP). I want Shaq. I want Magic, Kareem, shoot I even want Jerry West. All of it.
Final package: prime versions and legacies of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and the reversal of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trade
The sun is the source of all heat in our solar system, and therefore is the source of all light and life. So, Pat Riley...
Final package: The Sun, and also Bam Adebayo
Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t all that compelling, but a prime Kevin Garnett is. But moreover, Minnesota was the site of one of my absolute favorite niche NBA anecdotes, which gave way to one of my absolute favorite episodes of ‘Game of Zones:’
Final package: prime KG, and the Jimmy Butler story. Yes, that story.
The conversation starts with future star Ja Morant. Memphis also has a rich musical tradition, and it seems only fair that Milwaukee gets to take it. They’ve also got the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (yoink!) and adopted Grizzlies super-fan Justin Timberlake (double yoink!)
Final package: Ja, JT, the blues, and barbecue
New Orleans Pelicans
Two words: Zion Williamson. Two more words: Mardi Gras. Two more words: creole cuisine. I’ll take that over a fish fry.
Final package: Zion, the French Quarter, and a healthy serving of authentic gumbo in every pot
(I’m skipping the Knicks on purpose because they are so sad and so useless that they don’t even deserve a farcical trade proposal.)
Some people might start this conversation with Aaron Gordon; those people are dead wrong. There isn’t really a player on this roster that’s worth Giannis, so we’re quickly delving into the land of fantasy: prime Penny Hardaway and an alternate version of Markelle Fultz (where he doesn’t forget how to shoot/get sabotaged by the Sixers’ training staff) should do the trick. Oh, and Disney. All of Disney; the parks, the intellectual property, everything.
Final package: Prime Penny, Bizarro Fultz, and Disney (including all of its subsidiaries)
Ah, the City of Brotherly Love. That’s got a nice ring to it, it’s Milwaukee’s now. We’ll also take a distilled version of Joel Embiid, you know, the one that the Sixers get once every four games after he plays his way into shape. And also, Ben Simmons can stay, but he is no longer allowed to shoot within 10 feet. Oh, and we get Rocky, too.
Final package: Philly’s nickname, the good version of Embiid, Simmons has to adopt JJ Redick’s shot profile, Rocky Balboa
We already used “the Sun” with Miami, so instead we’ll take a phoenix. An actual, real, live phoenix. As in the bird that can burst into flames and regenerate from its own ashes. C’mon, I’ve seen Harry Potter, I know how it works! On top of that, we don’t want Giannis to be stuck in a bad situation, so Robert Sarver must sell the team and become a goat farmer.
Final package: a phoenix, and new ownership/justice served to Sarver
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are each a must. I also want back Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, the versions of them that weren’t forced out of the league by injury. Portland is also known for roses, so that’s coming back too. Low-key, this isn’t a bad deal!
Final package: Dame, CJ, healthy Oden and Roy, all the roses
The current Kings are meh. The past Kings are meh. Even that exciting Chris Webber team from the early 2000s isn’t enough for Giannis. So instead, if Sacramento wants to make this happen, they need to bring back the monarchy and set the seat of power in Milwaukee. Don’t ask me how, just get it done!
Final package: an actual king
San Antonio Spurs
The present-day Spurs are extremely average, but the Spurs of the past have a pair of players that would be excellent as a trade return: Tim Duncan and David Robinson. (Shout out to Frank Madden’s childhood!) Moreover, the Bucks would benefit from an iconic landmark, so the Alamo is coming too. It can live in Racine, or wherever.
Final package: Duncan, the Admiral, and the Alamo
Pascal Siakam is the only Raptor with a high enough floor (and ceiling), and Toronto-era Vince Carter would be a fun addition. Drake...stays. I’m sorry, but I want no part of him. We can expand our scope to incorporate all of Canada, which gives us maple syrup, poutine, and a national wellness system that isn’t an embarrassment. You know, one that actually helps people. Who knew?
Final package: Spicy P, prime VC, all the maple syrup, all the poutine, publicly-funded health care
Donovan Mitchell would be pretty neat, but I’m not taking back Rudy Gobert to turn right back around and let him walk because I’m not willing to offer him a max deal. Joe Ingles can come, though, if only for the excellent trash talk potential. Milwaukee has a massive freshwater lake, so a saltwater one would be a nice change of pace. Lastly, Utah is home of the Mormon religion, which is partly known for polygamy. I’m not seeking that for myself, mind you. I don’t need another wife, but maybe my wife wants another husband? At least then we’ll have a man around the house...
Final package: Mitchell, Ingles, the Great Salt Lake, socially-acceptable polygamy
Bradley Beal, for starters. We’ll also need to have an actual wizard, forcing Washington to change their name (don’t worry, you get to revert to the superior ‘Washington Bullets’) again. And since Washington D.C. is the seat of the federal government, we’ll take all three branches in return.
Final package: Beal, a real-life wizard, the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court
I hope that this point resonates with you, non-Bucks fan who slogged through this article I the hopes of stealing our superstar. Your team can’t have Giannis, you hear me?!
...and if I’m wrong and it does go that way, at least I finally get to try poutine.