We continue our roundtable series with the most pressing free agent question that new GM Travis Schlenk will have to answer.
The Hawks have an interesting decision in regards to Paul Millsap’s free agency. On one hand, he is the team’s best player and a no doubt All-Star but signing him will severely hamper their ability to upgrade the rest of the roster. What should Atlanta do?
Kris Willis: It never really should have come down to this. Paul Millsap is an All-Star and in every way a pro’s pro. He has elevated his game every season since he joined Atlanta but given the current state of their roster, they should probably be looking to move on. Of course if that was the decision then it should have been made at the trade deadline and not now. This team is going to have very few avenues for improvement from a cap standpoint and giving Millsap even a discounted deal at age 32 shouldn’t fit the timeline.
Brad Rowland: I’m a firm believer that the team should avoid paying Millsap’s next contract if it is anything approaching market value. Paul is a tremendous player that has been underpaid for the entirety of his tenure in Atlanta but, at 32, he is going to command a massive four-year (or five-year) contract that won’t end well. When you factor in the performance of the team last year, it is time to go in a different direction and, for me, that involves something of a rebuild.
Glen Willis: If the demand is simply the five year max they should just move on. But I do think that they should explore whether there is an acceptable four year contract with a fifth year option tied to some benchmark of games played, games started or something along those lines. It would mean they would be operating above the cap, but as long as they could maintain a path back to a point of flexibility within two years that would be fine with me. But it would mean that would need to be very strategic with the other deals they explore (Hardaway, Muscala, free agents)
RedRev: I am ok with getting younger around Millsap and allowing him to be a part of the developmental process. I expect Atlanta to get a relative discount from Paul somewhere between the max and what other teams offer. I think keeping him or letting him go can both be good decisions depending upon other moves made.
Graham Chapple: I think for the sake of the long term, the Hawks should let him go and that’s very tough to say because I love Millsap as a player and professional. Letting him go, however, would require the Hawks to bite the bullet for their mistake to not trade him in January/February but, to me, the Hawks’ ceiling isn’t particularly high and signing Millsap to a mega extension could hurt them significantly down the road as he progresses well into his 30’s earning 35 million + per year.
Josh Lane: Paul Millsap is greatest Hawk that I have watched for possibly the last decade not only as a player, but as a person. He is always professional and I feel this is the influence that I would want young players around. However, at the same time, Paul has been an underdog and underpaid for his whole career so I would not be upset if he is demanding a good amount of money this upcoming summer. If this happens, the Hawks need to say their goodbyes and let him walk. Hopefully in a lottery bound season where Dwight is the primary focus in the post, his trade value will improve for a move in the future.
Thomas Jenkins: I think the Hawks should let him go. Millsap deserves a big contract based on how well he has played in proportion to his previous earnings, but everyone else is right to point out that any big deal he gets will look bad after year two. It’s tough to say that a team should willingly let an all star walk away, especially one who is unambiguously the best player on the team, though. Ultimately, I won’t be horrified if he signs a long-term deal in Atlanta, but I can’t argue with the idea that losing him could ultimately be in the Hawks’ best interest. Thanks for everything, Paul. It’s been a blast.