After months of speculation and hours of waiting with bated breath since the start of the official free agency period, Paul Millsap has made his decision. For the first time in four seasons, Millsap will be playing in a uniform other than that of the Atlanta Hawks in 2017-2018, as he will land with the Denver Nuggets.
Free agent Paul Millsap has agreed to a three-year, $90M with the Denver Nuggets, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2017
Millsap nets a three-year contract from the Nuggets and, at this point, it is unclear as to what Atlanta's best offer might have been. In his new location, Millsap will serve as a running mate for Nikola Jokic and presumably will be a perfect fit in a place that he is familiar with having lived there during his youth.
On the Atlanta side, this is obviously a massive on-court loss. Millsap was, quite easily, the team's best player in 2016-2017 and has been an All-Star in each of the four seasons he spent with the Hawks. While his significant salary cap hold will come off the books, Travis Schlenk and company would work with no salary cap flexibility, given the cap holds for Tim Hardaway Jr., Mike Muscala, Ersan Ilyasova, Thabo Sefolosha and Kris Humphries, in addition to salary cap exceptions.
If the Hawks were to move on from Ilyasova, Sefolosha and Humphries (in addition to exceptions and Jose Calderon signing in Cleveland) while keeping holds for Muscala and Hardaway Jr., that would provide approximately $28.68 million in cap space and that provides a window into possible "splash" signings that Atlanta could make in the coming days. More likely, however, will be the era of Travis Schlenk pursuing reasonable, tradable contracts with an eye on the future and the dreaded "rebuild" phrase being coined (albeit outside of the front office's official statements) more than it has in quite some time for the franchise.
The next step will be extremely interesting for the Atlanta Hawks and there are plenty of decisions to make in the next week or two. For now, though, Paul Millsap is headed to Denver and the Hawks are left with a gaping hole. Stay tuned.