The Atlanta Hawks will enter free agency on Wednesday focused on keeping their core intact. Both DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap figure to be major pieces on the free agent market, but Mike Budenholzer told reporters on Monday that keeping both is what is most important for the Hawks going forward.
"Our most important thing is keeping our team together, so the more time I have to spend time with Paul and DeMarre and our players, I welcome that," Budenholzer said.
Both Carroll and Millsap excelled in their two seasons under Budenholzer in Atlanta. Millsap expanded his game and developed into a solid stretch four and an All-Star. Carroll arrived as a journeyman small forward and blossomed into a solid three point shooter and wing defender. Both played the past two seasons on very generous two year contracts. Now they are in position to yield a major pay day this summer.
"These guys have earned this opportunity," Budenholzer said. "I think they're going to have people who are interested in pursuing them. What they want and need, you can never be sure. Hopefully we know them well."
One thing that could work in the Hawks' favor is both players familiarity and success in Atlanta. The team is coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Budenholzer and company will sell that recent success hard along with their fit in the system.
Millsap arrived in Atlanta as an already established player. Under Atlanta's coaching staff he was able to take his game to another level. The Hawks saw something in Carroll that no other team did and more importantly gave him the opportunity to shine. That may not mean much once the money starts flowing this summer, but it may all the same.
One thing is clear, the Hawks may be active on the free agent market this summer, but their primary focus is on retaining Millsap and Carroll.