The Heat are signing Bam Adebayo to a max contract extension, which would make it far more difficult for them to open max cap space for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 free agency.
The easiest interpretation: Miami knows Antetokounmpo will sign a super-max extension with the Bucks.
But what if the Heat believe extending Adebayo actually helps their cause with Antetokounmpo?
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
A source who knows Antetokounmpo well said he would be more impressed by the Heat giving Adebayo the extension now than asking Adebayo to wait a year for the purpose of making it easier for the Heat to acquire Antetokounmpo.
I’m sure Antetokounmpo – who shares an agent, Alex Saratsis, with Adebayo – appreciates the Heat rewarding Adebayo now. Antetokounmpo values camaraderie and hard work, and Adebayo worked his way into being a centerpiece of the Heat’s identity. Adebayo deserves a max deal.
But Adebayo also could’ve gotten the same exact max terms – five years, projected $163 million ($196 million if making All-NBA or winning Defensive Player of the Year next season) – in 2020 free agency. By delaying, Miami could’ve made it far easier to open max cap space for Antetokounmpo. And again: Adebayo still would’ve gotten paid the exact same amount.
I bet – if he wants to join the Heat – Antetokounmpo would also appreciate a team that has maximum assets to build around him. With Adebayo extending, Miami’s paths to acquiring Antetokounmpo (sign-and-trade, opening near-max cap space then using unlikely-bonus trickery) would involve shedding players like Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa and picks.
Antetokounmpo might like the idea of Adebayo securing the bag now. But if he hits free agency next year, Antetokounmpo might not find the Heat quite as appealing as he would’ve with an unextended Adebayo.