It has seemingly been a lifetime since Danny Ferry swept in at the last moment to ink free agent power forward Paul Millsap to a 2-year, $19 million contract that immediately became one of the best values in the NBA. However, Millsap is entering the final year of that deal with the Atlanta Hawks, and in advance of the season, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked the 2014 All-Star about his pending free agency.
"It’s always in the back of your head but at the end of the day you have to go out there and play basketball regardless of your situation. I have to focus on this year, one game at a time. Don’t look too far ahead. Stay in the present."
Staying in the present is likely the best course of action for Millsap, especially due to the fact that he has soundly outplayed his $9.5 million per year salary while in Atlanta. Last season, the 6-foot-8 power forward stepped up in a huge way to fill the gap left by Al Horford, and for the year, Millsap averaged 17.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while expanding his offensive arsenal to include the 3-point line.
It will be incredibly interesting to see what Millsap would be worth on the open market if he can replicate, or even improve, on last season, but regardless, it appears as if head coach (and current GM) Mike Budenholzer wants Paul to remain in Atlanta.
"We want to keep him. He is someone who is really important to us. He fits us very well. We’ve communicated that with him on a regular basis."
The summer of 2015 is a world away, but if Paul Millsap fits next to Al Horford in the way that many (including myself) envision, it could be a fruitful partnership in the front-court for years to come.