#2 The East got a whole lot tougher
The Eastern Conference just got a whole lot tougher now that Giannis is going to lord over it for the next five seasons. Teams with younger rosters that had eyes on contending in a few years are now facing a grim reality.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics both have young franchise cornerstones that they hoped could develop together and compete for titles. Giannis only just turned 26-years-old and now the Bucks have him locked in throughout his prime.
By the time Giannis will be set to free agency again Joel Embiid will be closing in on 30-years-old, Ben Simmons will be 28-years-old, Jaylen Brown will be 28, and Jayson Tatum 26. The 76ers and Celtics can’t simply wait out Giannis anymore.
Of all the East’s would-be contenders, the team most adversely affected by Giannis’ extension are the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets, unlike the 76ers and Celtics, are not built to contend five seasons from now, they’re built to win now.
Kevin Durant is 32-years-old and just missed a season due to an Achilles injury and Kyrie Irving is 28 and has played over 70 games only three times in his nine-season career. This Nets team is built to contend over the next few seasons and after that, it could get ugly.
James Harden wants to go to the Nets but the Nets have balked at the Rockets’ asking price. They’re an expensive aging team that wants to win a title and Harden could be their ticket out of the East.
If the Nets weren’t interested in James Harden before, they surely are now. The problem for the Nets, and the rest of the league, is that James Harden is not going to come cheap.
Next: Number 1