The Lakers have stated that they want Jason Kidd on their coaching staff to serve as a veteran assistant to Frank Vogel and a mentor to Lonzo Ball, but the real reason may be more ambitious, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.
A source familiar with the Lakers told Popper at this week’s draft combine that the Lakers are hoping to make a pitch for MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo when he becomes a free agent in 2021. They hope Kidd will provide the personal connection needed to attract the Bucks star.
Kidd was Antetokounmpo’s coach for three and a half years in Milwaukee before being fired in the middle of the 2017/18 season. He helped Antetokounmpo develop from a part-time player as a rookie into one of the NBA’s top talents.
L.A. currently doesn’t have any salary committed past 2021 other than $5MM owed for the final year of Luol Deng‘s stretched contract. LeBron James has a $41MM player option for the 2021/22 season, while Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart will all be eligible for extensions by then.
Although nobody can tell what might happen in two years, the Lakers seem to have a tough sell to convince Antetokounmpo to leave a Bucks team that appears headed for a long run as a title contender. Beyond that, he will likely be eligible for a supermax contract that would pay him 35% of the salary cap, but that’s an offer that only the Bucks can make.
Winning this year’s MVP honors would automatically qualify him for a super-max, as would being named Defensive Player of the Year or making an All-NBA team in 2021 or two of the next three seasons.