Less than ten days ago, Atlanta Hawks head coach and president of basketball operations Mike Budenholzer effectively closed the door on any notion that Paul Millsap could be traded ahead of Thursday’s deadline. On Wednesday, Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox doubled down on that notion in a video interview conducted by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
The money quote from Wilcox reads as follows:
"Let me first be extremely clear: Paul Millsap is not going to be traded and Paul Millsap is absolutely our priority in re-signing him with the Atlanta Hawks."
Within the same interview, Wilcox indicates that he believes “it's fair to classify the Atlanta Hawks as buyers” and that would pour cold water on any belief that Atlanta could look to the future over the next 24 hours. The Hawks have a number of draft assets in the future (something Wilcox reminds us of) if they are looking to improve this season.
No discussion of the team should be had without acknowledging that the Hawks have been outscored for the season and, at the moment, there are four Eastern Conference teams solidly ahead of Atlanta in the pecking order. With that in mind, the Hawks might be wise to look beyond one-year rentals if “buying” is their focus, but what the end result will be remains to be seen.
Looking beyond the trade deadline decision-making, the notion that Millsap is a “priority” for the team this summer makes sense, simply because keeping him now would provide a window into that thinking. In the same breath, Millsap is now 32 years old and will be commanding a five-year max contract when July 1 arrives. Atlanta’s willingness to pony up that kind of deal is up for debate but that decision looms in the background of the organizational thinking between now and Thursday afternoon.