Will Thanasis Antetokounmpo Explore Options Outside of New York Knicks?

By Matt Constas
Getty Images
Getty Images

Over the course of the offseason, the New York Knicks and their front office have been very active in reworking their roster. On Wednesday, they made a trade with the Sacramento Kings, sending away Wayne Ellington and Jeremy Tyler while receiving Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw in return. With those guaranteed contracts now on the books, the Knicks’ 15-man roster is full, leaving somebody out.

That somebody could be the Greek youngster Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who is reportedly looking into another year in the D-League or playing overseas, according to RealGM. This comes as a surprise, as the 51st overall pick played pretty well for the Delaware 87ers of the D-League this past season.

His brother, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is nicknamed the Greek Freak and is one of the most sought after young players in the NBA. The Knicks have a lot of depth in their backcourt and Thanasis, 22, may be the one that is the odd man out. His stats with the 87ers were solid, averaging 12 points on 47 percent shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists per game. His production in five summer league games in Las Vegas was a lot less significant, however, as he averaged just three points and 1.8 rebounds in five games.

The unsigned Antetokounmpo would end up buried behind the shooting guards currently on the roster. While he is still very raw and learning more and more about the brand of basketball in America, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith are veterans who are experienced in the league and have specific skills that can benefit the Knicks greatly this season. The Knicks also have Tim Hardaway Jr., who many consider to be their best young talent. Antetokounmpo is still learning and with that depth in the backcourt, maybe it would be smart for him to wait another year before joining the Knicks, or try and find another option.

Antetokounmpo also got into foul trouble during the summer league, averaging almost five per game. He is very aggressive, athletic and quick, which excites the Knicks, and should excite any team. However, he is a very raw talent that still needs a lot of polishing to his game. The Knicks could keep his rights so he can play elsewhere and come back to the team as he continues to improve and others show if they are worth while playing at the big level.

Anytime a team acquires a couple of draft picks the night before the draft, it is hard to believe that one of those guys would not end up on a roster that is trying to rebuild and become younger. Antetokounmpo could end up writing a different story. It will be interesting to see what the move is from each side. Based on the potential he has and how hard he plays, I think it would be foolish for the Knicks to give up his rights, but it would definitely benefit Antetokounmpo to play somewhere else where he can improve and maybe join on with them in the future.

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