We learned over the weekend that the Los Angeles Lakers would be adding Kostas Antetokounmpo as their second two-way contract player after claiming him off waivers, but the team has now made it official, announcing Antetokounmpo’s addition in a press release.
Players on two-way contracts can be called up to their team’s NBA roster for up to 45 days during a season, time in which they’re paid a pro-rated NBA salary. This year, two-way players will earn nearly $80,000, not including NBA wages resulting from time on call-ups.
Antetokounmpo — and fellow two-way player Zach Norvell Jr. — will spend their time not called up by the Lakers playing for the South Bay Lakers in the G League. They do not count against an NBA roster, so the Lakers still have one guaranteed contract spot left as of right now.
For speculation on what this means for his brother, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his free agency in 2021, you can read this post, but it’s also worth looking at what Kostas himself brings to the Lakers right now.
The answer is likely not a lot just yet. The Lakers have an incredibly crowded frontcourt that features players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Kuzma, among others, all vying for minutes, and so Antetokounmpo carving out a huge role in the rotation right away seems highly unlikely, barring injury.
What this might be is a long play, but not in the way you’re thinking. While it’s fun to imagine this as an attempt for the Lakers to try and lure Giannis in two years, it may just be the team trusting it’s player-development staff to help Kostas develop in the G League and in their practices, potentially setting the 21-year-old big man up as a young prospect on a team mostly devoid of them.
The Lakers just hired Phil Handy, one of the most respected player-development coaches in the entire NBA landscape. While Handy appears set to branch out beyond just that role in L.A., it’s easy to envision him helping put a development plan together for Kostas, a plan that the South Bay Lakers coaching staff (and Miles Simon and Handy while Kostas is with the parent team) could put into action.
Kostas’ averages of 1 point and 1 steal in two games for the Mavericks won’t blow anyone away, but he’s been a bit better in the G League, averaging 10.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per contest over 40 games for the Texas Legends last season. Those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers, but Kostas is still raw and has a lot to work on, including his finishing skills around the rim, both when contested and going through contact, as well as improving his overall defensive awareness.
These are normal things that almost all young bigs have to work on, and Kostas does have natural tools, as he boasts a 6’10 frame and 7’2 wingspan. And at just 200 pounds, he still has plenty of room to fill out his frame.
Those features might not be getting as long of a look if he wasn’t the younger brother of the league’s current MVP, but there is something to be said for having good natural abilities. If the Lakers can lock Kostas in the gym with their player development staff and really give him time and attention to properly address his weaknesses while building up his strengths, there is at least a chance he develops into some type of player for them.
Kostas still has a long way to go before that’s the most likely outcome, but he appears to be worth a shot for the Lakers. On several fronts.
more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per Real GM and Draft Express. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.