Paul Millsap, the Atlanta Hawks forward, is one of the few all-stars expected to be traded ahead of February's deadline, per reports. The question is: what are the Hawks seeking for the veteran power forward?
For several weeks, NBA insiders have concluded that Millsap would be playing for different team in the aftermath of the All-Star break. While the Toronto Raptors have emerged as the likeliest destination, several other suitors willing to sign Millsap to a maximum contract in July have thrown their hat into the mix.
Since Millsap is a free agent in the summer, the team that acquires him will acquire his Bird Rights and be in the position to offer him the most lucrative possible contract. But seeing as the forward turns 32 next month, teams could be reluctant to make a long-term investment, precisely why the Hawks are open to dealing him.
Paul Millsap Trade: What are the Hawks expecting in return?
According to ESPN's Mark Stein, the Hawks front office is looking for at least one high first round draft pick in exchange for Millsap since coach-cum-president Mike Budenholzer wants to hit the reset button. The Hawks traded Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for veteran forward Mike Dunleavy and a 2019 first round draft pick. Last February, the Hawks traded Jeff Teague before losing Al Horford to free agency in July. Essentially, all the players who helped the Hawks secure the No. 1 seed two years back are either gone or have one step out of the door.
Since Budenholzer's plan is to collect draft picks and build around a young team, it's highly unlikely that the Hawks accept a veteran player with multiple years on the contract. "Other serious (trade) suitors for Millsap (besides Toronto) are bound to emerge, but here's the real question: Can Atlanta get a future first-round pick of better quality than the first it received for Korver when Millsap is poised to attract so much big-money interest as a free agent come July 1? Teams could well prove hesitant to surrender too much for a primo pending free agent.
"The Hawks, sources say, want at least one quality first to headline a Millsap deal. The Raptors, meanwhile, have to decide whether a deal for Millsap closes the gap on Cleveland sufficiently to part with quality assets and justifies the expense involved to re-sign him in the same offseason All-Star guard Kyle Lowry is due for a new deal," Stein wrote in his report over the weekend.
It's surely a catch-22 situation for the Hawks. While they can't expect too much for an expiring contract, they can't expect anything less than a promising first round pick in exchange for an All-Star. The Raptors have two first-round picks in 2017 -- both are projected to fall in the mid 20's. Would that be attractive enough for the Hawks?
Paul Millsap is averaging 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds from 34.1 minutes per game. He is widely considered as one of the best defensive big men in the league.