The Atlanta Hawks nearly traded Paul Millsap to the Toronto Raptors during the offseason but pulled the plug on a possible deal after Al Horford bolted for the Boston Celtics, per fresh reports.
In recent weeks, the Millsap to Raptors trade rumour has picked up steam, with several NBA insiders suggesting that Toronto will attempt to acquire the defensive-minded power forward ahead of the February deadline. The Hawks, too, are reportedly open to trading Millsap due to the fear of losing him in free agency in July.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Hawks have been actively shopping Millsap for a while and nearly dealt him to Denver Nuggets prior to last year's trade deadline. "This (possible trade) has happened twice in the last year," Windhorst revealed during ESPN's TrueHoop podcast.
"They (Hawks) almost traded him to Denver at the trade deadline last year. They also had a trade lined up for Jeff Teague and ultimately decided not to do either trade. And ended up in the second round against the Cavs where they got swept," said Windhorst before adding that Millsap and the Hawks were nearing a break-up.
"Then over the summer, after they did trade Jeff Teague and signed Dwight Howard, they were all set to trade Millsap if Al Horford had re-signed. They were going to trade him to Toronto. That deal fell through when Horford went to Boston. They've twice before brought their toes to the line on Millsap," added Windhorst.
After acquiring hometown star Dwight Howard via free agency, the Hawks were hoping to re-sign Al Horford but after the Dominican left for Boston, Atlanta had no other option but to hold onto Millsap.
Paul Millsap trade to Toronto Raptors: Will a deal get done?
The Raptors, the second best team in the eastern conference, are still searching for an all-star calibre power forward to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the definitive favourites to make their third consecutive NBA finals appearance in June. While there's no guarantee that Millsap's addition would get them over the hump, many analysts feel it gives them a fighting chance against LeBron James & Co.
Of course, the Hawks don't have too much leverage in the trade talks since Millsap is expected to opt out of his Player Option ahead of the 2016-17 season and pursue a maximum-level contract. There are few proposed trade scenarios doing the rounds, including a package of Jakob Poeltl and Patrick Patterson being sent to Atlanta in exchange for Millsap. Ideally, the Hawks would prefer young assets and draft picks since Hawks president-cum-coach Mike Budenholzer has hinted at hitting the reset button.
Meanwhile, Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore has reported that Millsap wants to stay put in Atlanta.
Millsap on trade talk: "Everybody knows where my heart is and where I want to be."
Me: And that's here?
Millsap: "That would be here, yes."
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 3, 2017
Is a Paul Millsap trade on the horizon? Are the Toronto Raptors willing to forego assets for an expiring contract?