After finishing two wins away from an NBA title in 2020, the Heat are interested in upgrading their roster in a major way. Miami is preparing to go "all in" on their pursuit of reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency in 2021, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Antetokounmpo has one year left on his current contract with the Bucks, and he is eligible to sign a five-year max extension with Milwaukee this offseason.
Miami's desire to maintain financial flexibility so that they have the means to pursue Antetokounmpo next year could even cause them to wait on offering a maximum rookie extension to All-Star center Bam Adebayo. From Charania:
Rival teams are monitoring Adebayo's extension situation and the aftereffects if Miami bypasses extending their superstar big man. Miami is preparing to go all in on the pursuit of Milwaukee's two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 free agency, sources said. There is a school of thought that salary-wise, waiting on Adebayo's extension would allow for as much space as possible for 2021.
If Antetokounmpo signs an extension with the Bucks, the Heat's hopes end there. For what it's worth, the Bucks are confident that he will indeed sign it. However, if he doesn't, things will get extremely interesting, and the Heat will be far from the only franchise angling to land the star forward. The Heat defeated Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals this past season, and after their campaign ended in a disappointing manner for the second straight year, it's tough to tell exactly how Giannis feels about his current franchise moving forward. Maybe he'll want to wait to see how Milwaukee's front office is able to upgrade the team around him, and how they're able to bounce back next season before committing to the Bucks long-term.
When speaking about his upcoming free agency prior to the 2019-20 season, Giannis said that the decision would become much more difficult if the Bucks underachieved.
"I want the Bucks to build a winning culture," Antetokounmpo said. "So far, we have been doing great, and, if this lasts, there's no other place I want to be. But if we're underperforming in the NBA next year, deciding whether to sign becomes a lot more difficult."
The Bucks are the only team that Antetokounmpo has ever played for, and he previously expressed a desire to remain with the franchise for the entirety of his career -- as long as both sides remain focused on winning titles.
"The ultimate goal is to win a championship," Antetokounmpo said last offseason. "As long as that we are all on the same page and we are all focused on that goal, why not play for the Bucks 20 years? Why not play 25 years? Why not, after playing, be a member of the coaching staff or a member of the front office? But we got to have the same goal. We got to have the same principles. We got to focus on winning a championship.
"I want to be a part of a winning team. As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there's no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan."
At the very least, Giannis will play another season in Milwaukee, as the Bucks aren't likely to trade him before his current contract expires, and Antetokounmpo said that he won't ask for a trade. The extension offer is coming, and it will be up to Antetokounmpo to determine if he wants to sign it, or delay the decision. If he decides to wait, it will be a long, stressful year in Milwaukee.