On Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst did not hold back in essentially slamming the door on a Paul Millsap return to the Atlanta Hawks. While not everyone feels that way, Millsap does have an interesting decision to make and the Hawks have one in their own way.
With that as the backdrop, predictions are rolling in for where Millsap (and other Atlanta free agents) will sign and here are a few of them.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation believes that Millsap will head to the Phoenix Suns for a large sum of money.
This is the toughest case to suss out, because the market is really wide open for Millsap. No one is totally sure what the Suns are doing, but they land meetings with top free agents every summer and are bound to come away with one. Millsap to Phoenix for $120 million, he said without any confidence.
It is always worth noting that Ziller projects Tim Hardaway Jr. to land with the Indiana Pacers, with the Hawks coming to theoretical terms with San Antonio Spurs swingman Jonathon Simmons. Simmons will be 28 years old before the start of the season, making him something of an odd fit in a potential rebuild. Still, he is an intriguing late-bloomer that could be fun in Hawks University.
Riley McAtee of The Ringer believes Millsap will take the max in Sacramento:
So far, the Kings have done nearly everything I’ve wanted them to. The roster is filled with young players (nine guys will have one or zero years of NBA experience next season), and Sacramento has plenty of money to spend. It’s not every day your highest-paid player, at $12 million per year, is a rookie! If the Kings can absorb a big contract that some other contender needs to unload to create space, then they should do so — and get some assets in return. But what they shouldn’t do is sign a deal that in eight months will be a contract they’ll want to unload themselves. So of course that’s what they’ll do.
There are whispers the Kings are interested in Paul Millsap, a 32-year-old who is good enough to be an All-Star but not good enough to carry a team. Perfect for the Kings.
If Paul wants the most money he can receive, the Kings would be an interesting notion. What Sacramento probably won’t provide, though, is a contending team during anything approaching Millsap’s prime.
Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report could see Millsap landing in Denver under the potential notion of a sign-and-trade with the Nuggets.
The Denver Nuggets are still searching for a legitimate star to pair with Nikola Jokic, and no one on the open market is a better fit than Paul Millsap. Throwing heaps of money at him (and possibly offering Wilson Chandler's contract to the Atlanta Hawks in a sign-and-trade scenario) might come back to bite the up-and-coming organization as the power forward moves deeper into his 30s, but it's worth doing to vault the Nuggets firmly into playoff contention.
This has been a popular notion for quite some time and the Nuggets have some intriguing S-and-T pieces to send back if Atlanta is willing to participate in such a move. Pairing Millsap with Jokic would be a great match and Millsap has ties to the area.
The team that is not included above is the Houston Rockets. Daryl Morey and company have been rumored to be interested in Millsap and, unlike the other teams listed, Houston has a chance to win big immediately with both Chris Paul and James Harden on board. It is more complicated given the way that the Rockets have set up their roster but, if the team could move Ryan Anderson or include him in a sign-and-trade to Atlanta (a big sticking point for me, personally), it could make sense.
Oh and, for the record, mystery teams aren’t out of the question here. Millsap is tremendous and has a skill set that fits almost anywhere. Minnesota? Boston?
Let’s get weird.