Storyline: Paul Millsap Free Agency

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Millsap agreed to a three-year, $90 million contract as an unrestricted free agent by the Nuggets on Sunday. His tenure with the Hawks abruptly ended. “It was pretty simple,” Millsap told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. “Denver, they came and they’ve been wanting me for years. They made that known. The presentation that they gave me, it felt comfortable, it felt real. At the end of the day it was going to be the team that I felt most comfortable with and Atlanta. Atlanta decided to go another direction. They didn’t want to make an offer. So it was pretty simple. Denver was the team.”

Millsap was not surprised by the Hawks decision. Nothing, he said, surprises him after 11 years in the NBA. However, he admitted to being disappointed by the end of relationship that helped him blossom into one of the top power forwards in the league. All four of Millsap’s All-Star Game appearances came with the Hawks. “Definitely disappointing,” Millsap said. “I thought I meant a bit more than that to them. But it is what it is. I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. I’m happy with the team I’m with. I’m ready to get it going with them.”

Millsap was the last remaining starter from the Hawks’ 60-win Eastern Conference final team from 2014-15. Just two years after the franchise-record run, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Horford and now Millsap are gone. The Hawks received only at first-round pick for Teague (which turned into Taurean Prince) and a 2019 protected first-round pick from the Cavaliers for Korver. Carroll signed with the Raptors as an unrestricted free agent in 2015.

Concerning Millsap and Hardaway, Schlenk would not indicate whether he has a price threshold that he’s willing to pay for each. Millsap is an unrestricted free agent. Hardaway is a restricted free agent and the Hawks have more flexibility regarding his contract. “The one thing I’ve maintained is that we are going to be flexible and not sign bad deals,” said Schlenk, admitting he realizes he already sounds like a broken record already in his short tenure with the team. “That means different things for different guys.”

Free agent forwards Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap will meet with the Phoenix Suns after the NBA free agency moratorium period begins Saturday, reports John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. Gambadoro reports the 28-year-old Griffin will meet with Phoenix this weekend. An unrestricted free agent, Griffin could be more likely to find a new home after the Los Angeles Clippers dealt All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets this week.

“The word on the street is that Phoenix is a very strong suitor and is willing to offer the max, not necessarily for a full four years, but was willing to offer the max for a shorter contract,” reported ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on The Basketball Analogy podcast. Windhorst notes that in addition to the Suns, the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings are also interested in Millsap. Given the recent developments in Houston, it would also make sense for the Rockets to enter the race as well.

New general manager Travis Schlenk told to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that retaining Millsap remains a priority. However, he acknowledged that Millsap may receive better offers elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent next month. “We are going to make Paul our best offer,” Schlenk said this week. “Will he have better offers? I don’t know. Do we want to keep Paul? Sure. I said last week, if you are building a team with all the things I’ve said, Paul checks all those boxes. He’s a hard-worker. He’s a good guy. He’s high-character. Skilled. He does all that stuff. We’d like to have him. The reality is, he might get better offers than we can make him.”

The Hawks’ win totals have slipped two straight years. The team could enter free-fall mode if unable to re-sign Millsap. The power forward, who averaged 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, was the top producer on a roster that received disappointing returns from $70 million investments in Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore. Millsap said he wants to stay with the Hawks. “I want to be here,” Millsap said. “I think talks have been pretty good. … It’s something me, my agent and my family have got to sit down and talk about.”

Ressler said a deal seeking his final approval to trade Millsap never reached his desk last February. And if it had, Ressler used a profane acronym to sum up his seriousness of not dealing the power forward. His intention is to keep Millsap a Hawk beyond the season. “We love Paul Millsap,” Ressler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. “We are trying to re-sign him. We want him to stay here. We think he is a really special player and a special person that we want on our team and in our locker room and we are going to make every effort imaginable to keep him.”

“If we lose Paul, which we desperately don’t want to do, we move on. We pull up our plan and we move on. But the goal is not to lose Paul. Paul is exactly the kind of player I love on the Atlanta Hawks. I don’t know how else to say it. I’ve said it to Paul. I’ve said it to you. I’ve said it to whoever has one ear, let alone two ears. Paul Millsap is a great guy, on the court and off the court. The NBA is a complicated place. The range of income for these players and the number of year that they have to maximize their income makes it a complicated business model.”

Ressler said he not bothered by trade talk involving Millsap earlier this season. It’s part of the business. He has the final decision. And Millsap is part of the Hawks’ business. “Did certain people have discussions based on calls they got? I have no idea,” Ressler said of the rumor. “I think that’s what basketball operations people do for a living. I actually believe the more they do that, the more it gets in the public domain. Yes, I read some of the stuff. Yes, I was told people call and people ask. We are in the Paul Millsap business. At least we are trying our best to be. Our job is to try to make him want to be here, both financially and emotionally. We are trying. That I can promise you.”

Would the Celtics be interested in Millsap? Some things would likely need to happen: Millsap would have to agree to honor the final year of his contract and the Celtics would have to offer the Hawks a chip for the long-term future — likely one of those Brooklyn picks — along with the expiring contract of Amir Johnson and likely another starter to match up salaries. It would be quite a sacrifice for the Celtics, and it would also mean Horford would have to move to center, a position he would prefer not to play.

Paul Millsap undecided on contract

Paul Millsap said he has yet to decide whether he will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Hawks this summer. The three-time All-Star power forward has a player option for the 2017-18 season worth $21,472,407. It would seem likely that Millsap will opt out and become an unrestricted free agent based on an increase in the NBA salary cap. However, Millsap said he will see how this season plays out before making up his mind. “I haven’t decided anything, no,” Millsap told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

Paul Millsap said he has yet to decide whether he will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Hawks this summer. The three-time All-Star power forward has a player option for the 2017-18 season worth $21,472,407. It would seem likely that Millsap will opt out and become an unrestricted free agent an increase in the NBA salary cap. However, Millsap said he will see how this season plays out before making up his mind. “I haven’t decided anything, no,” Millsap told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. […] “I think the plan is to see how this season goes and go from there. I can’t predict what is going to happen. For me, it’s focus on basketball. Get through this year, try to get a championship for this team first of all. We’ll deal with all that during the summer time when we have all our options on the table.”
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