Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers made the shocking decision to release rookie guard Zach Norvell Jr. from his two-way contract to sign rookie forward Devontae Cacok to the same type of deal. The fact that Cacok was given a two-way contract wasn’t surprising — it was the fact that Norvell was cut instead of Kostas Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo has put up better numbers in the G League with the South Bay Lakers than Norvell has so far, but Norvell has debatably shown more upside in his first few months in the NBA than Antetokounmpo has in almost two years. If the decision was made on talent alone, Norvell likely would have kept the spot, but there’s more to the Lakers keeping Kostas than what he offers their minor league team.
In 2021, Kostas’ older brother — and the NBA’s reigning MVP — Giannis Antetokounmpo will hit unrestricted free agency, and the Lakers are reportedly hopeful that Kostas will tell Giannis good things about his time in Los Angeles.
Until then, Giannis is under contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Lakers will see them and the reigning league MVP on Thursday. While some might assume Kostas’ teammates have tried to pick his brain about guarding his older brother, he told Kyle Goon of the OC Register that hasn’t happened yet:
It might seem tempting for teammates to hit Kostas up for Giannis intel, but he said that so far, it hasn’t been the case.
“Not yet at least,” he said. “At least not really. I wouldn’t really know. I know the way (Giannis) works, but I wouldn’t even know what he does with the team.”
Hopefully Kostas offers up some last-minute advice on Thursday, because the Lakers are going to need every advantage they can get against Giannis, especially if Anthony Davis isn’t given the okay to play.
The Lakers have been tremendous to start the season, but the game against the Bucks on Thursday is easily their biggest test yet. Whether it’s Kostas, Davis or LeBron James, someone needs to figure out how to slow down Giannis, but that’s much easier said than done. We’ll see what the Lakers come up with.