Kyle Korver? Gone. Paul Millsap? He needs to go, too

They just don't lose. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Those were the days, my friends. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

The surprising part isn’t that the Atlanta Hawks have decided to redo their roster. The surprise came when they only half-redid it last summer. They traded Jeff Teague. They let Al Horford leave. Now they’ve shipped Kyle Korver to Cleveland. (The deal is not yet official.)

Remember the great starting five of two seasons backs, the quintet that powered the Hawks to 60 victories and was named, as a collective, the NBA East’s player (sic) of the month for January? Here’s how many are still Hawks.

One. Paul Millsap. And he’s surely outbound as well.

I’m not going to carp about this happening. The Hawks had gotten old before our eyes, and they’d proved they couldn’t get past Cleveland in the East. (In two postseasons, they were 0-8 against LeBron and Co.) My issue is that the Hawks should have done more sooner. They should have done as the Braves did — rip it up and start again. (Granted, that’s harder to do when you’re still a winning team.)

Instead they re-signed Kent Bazemore, who’s a pretty good player but nothing more, for $70 million over four seasons, and hired Dwight Howard, who’s on the down slope of a career, for $70.5 million over three years. This looked pretty good when they were 9-2, but pretty soon they were below .500 and thinking the dark thoughts that should have occurred long before.

I wouldn’t have traded Horford/Millsap/Korver/Teague at last season’s All-Star break. Coming off 60-22, there was no reason not to see if the old gang had a big finish left in it. Turned out it didn’t, which meant: Breakup time!

Teague needed to go to make room for Dennis Schroder, and re-upping Horford was always going to be a massive investment with no guarantee of a big reward. I didn’t hate those moves. I hated overspending for two guys (Bazemore and Howard) who weren’t going to move the “W” needle in the right direction.

Sentimentally, losing Korver is a big deal. On a pragmatic basis, it’s not. He turns 36 in March. He’s no longer a starter. The Cavaliers needed him because J.R. Smith broke his thumb. Korver was one of those shooters — actually, the best of those shooters — that Danny Ferry lovingly assembled and Mike Budenholzer molded into a beautifully functioning unit. The shelf life of that unit was, alas, brief. That happens when you’re working with older guys.

At issue now is whether, in Ferry’s conspicuous absence, Budenholzer knows how to rebuild. The Howard acquisition was clearly a Bud move: “I like him; I can coach him.” But here’s where having your coach as team czar isn’t the greatest of ideas. Coaches always think they can make something of a team — until they realize they can’t.

At this moment, the Hawks are fourth in the East and atop the Southeast Division. (They’ve won five in a row.) They’re nowhere near terrible, but they’re going nowhere. Millsap, who’ll turn 32 next month, is all but certain to leave as a free agent in July, and that would leave the Hawks with a core of Howard, Schroder, Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr., which is decidedly middle-tier.

The only way to get better is to get younger and hope for the best. The Hawks will receive a protected first-round pick from Cleveland, which is something. They can get more for Millsap. That trade needs to happen soon.

Reader Comments 0

68 comments
FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Even when the Hawks had salary room they could not get the best guys to come here.  No one seems to want to play here

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

For conversation purposes -- what would Milsap bring back that would be substantial toward the prospective rebuild -- if that is how they would go.  Note that those who think that we can just package some of the throw in talent like Dunleavy, Scott and a couple of second round picks for anything are not realistic.  And how confident are you in Wilcox's decision making for draft picks -- assuming he hangs around as GM

MikeS777
MikeS777

I don't know if you saw the game last night, but Memphis came back and beat GS in OT with Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph dominating GS inside.   San Antonio blew out GS to start the season behind huge games from Aldridge and Leonard on the front line.

You look at all these teams like Cleveland, Toronto, GS, Boston, and Houston...they've all stacked star talent on the perimeter and are extremely vulnerable inside and on the boards.  The worst percentage shot in basketball is still the long range outside shot, no matter who's shooting it.   Inside players like Howard shoot over 60% and dominate the top of the FG% charts as well as dominate the rebounding stats.   Boston's best rebounder is Avery Bradley...a SG!!!  LOL

So I can't stress enough, why should the Hawks want to just toss aside a huge advantage like the Millsap/Howard front line?   They should already be lining up the max contract for Millsap.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@MikeS777  I like that front court & Howard has not been the problem,  in fact the team is playing a bit better as of late -- we are having a respectable yr 4th overall seed.  Why be in such a hurry to retool

Dis custed
Dis custed

The new owners are garbage until they get a dynamite GM and open up the purse strings.

Spend like you want a world championship as you are supposedly Billionaires.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Dis custed  Not as easy to spend your way to an NBA championship as it is in MLB -- I would love these new owners to own the Braves.  As for this sport you have to get lucky and get one of those select few guys.  They have spent -- but not wisely on Bazemore and with Schroeder it remains to be seen

MikeS777
MikeS777

I don't get where you're coming from, Mark.   This team has won 10 of the last 14 games, including wins over San Antonio, Toronto, OKC, and NY.   And I'm supposed to believe they aren't going nowhere?  They beat Cleveland this year snapping an 11 game losing streak to the Cavs, thanks in large part to Howard and Millsap completely bottling up Tristan Thompson.   Thompson finished with 0 pts and 2 rebounds while Howard grabbed 17 in the game.

Millsap has publicly said he wants to stay in Atlanta.   He's not looking to get out of town.   Millsap + Howard is a front line that creates a huge mismatch in the Hawks favor against Cleveland, Boston, and Toronto.   I think the Hawks would be foolish to just toss that aside, unless you know of a superstar player ready to come to ATL.

They have too many free agents coming up this summer, so they can't sign everyone.  My guess is Millsap and Hardaway Jr will be their top priorities.  Korver was not going to be, so this move is just them getting what they can.  It doesn't mean they are ready to blow anything up.

So far, they haven't seen a return on the Teague trade, so what makes you think dumping Millsap is going to help anyone?

MikeS777
MikeS777

Just to add to my point, the way I see it, you can compete with a team like Cleveland and GS in 2 ways.  1)  Find a couple of top flight superstars to join your squad.  2) Create a mismatch that gives you a fighting chance.   We all know option 1 is not likely to happen.

So option 2 is the Millsap/Howard front line that teams like Cleveland and GS can't match.   It's not unlike what Indiana did a few years ago with David West and Roy Hibbert.   Twice they pushed Lebron's Miami "superteam" to the brink.

IMO they just need one more perimeter player who can be more consistent than Korver and Bazemore have been.  It's not the time to blow anything up.

POV1948
POV1948

Ferry's personnel moves were creative and in some cases were like drawing a rabbit from a hat.  Bud/Wilcox seem to make moves without a grand design.  

KBP
KBP

@FreeAgentFan 


Toronto has no players of equal value to Milsap they would send back. So since were rebuilding, Milsap would bring back more picks than Korver. Disagree that rebuilding is an excuse for losing because if you rebuild the right way, then losing will be a thing of the past. On another note, I am not sold on Coach Bud, the GM

DawgNole
DawgNole

@KBP: "Disagree that rebuilding is an excuse for losing because if you rebuild the right way, then losing will be a thing of the past."

_________________ 

IF you rebuild the right way.

That's a huge "IF"!

After 50 years, we're still waiting for it to happen in ATL--'95 Braves notwithstanding.

atlfanman
atlfanman

Really going to miss Kyle. He was getting used to coming off the bench and still being a contributor. However, trading him to Cleveland, because they were the only team that could give you value doesn't add for me. The main question is for whom do the Hawks trade Millsap for that could give them a chance at being competitive now and in the future?  I have seen rumors of a couple teams in the running, but the team that interests me the most is the Sacramento Kings. I know many of the bloggers who read what I am about to say might cringe, but if we could get DeMarcus Cousins, who is a double-double machine and is only 26 years and has another year on his contract might be a good move for the franchise. Boogie as he is known is talented and temperamental. But he is also 6'11" and 270 lbs and can use either hand. Dwight would have to put his foot down to get him to adjust. It would change the landscape for sure, Boogie is not happy in Sacramento and it will be his opportunity to be on a playoff team. I can see the skeptics now, saying this team has become an equivalent for knuckleheads R US. It could also be one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA.



dirtyo11
dirtyo11

I somewhat agree. Horford should still be in ATLANTA and they could of gotten more for Teague and Korver. If you trade you make a splash, not give up and get little in return. Hayes for Korver would of been an awesome trade. We want win it all until we start thinking like NBA Champions. Notice the Champions go get the players they need to win it all...not get rid of their best players for draft picks and then don't draft good...that's what the hawks do

MrLimpett
MrLimpett

Dump the teams best player. Good idea.

adarian652
adarian652

I don't feel like this is a tank move. I wouldn't be surprise if the Hawks don't move another starter but one or two seconds and a bench player or two and still be competitive until the summer and then deal with Millsap and move forward. I may be mistaken but I believe the Hawks have a ton of second round picks that they can do away with if they are smart.

fantom5
fantom5

The President of the Hawks needs to step down.  He is lousy at the job.  His other job as Head Coach is not all that spectacular by the end of the day.  Candidly its just another example of a go along to get along Atlanta pro team.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

Rebuilding is a lot like bankruptcy - you forget all you did wrong and think you are starting with a fresh slate.


The only problem is that for both you never lose what truly caused you to need to rebuild/bankrupt.


The Hawks can go back to 50+ loss seasons thinking youth or low draft picks will restart them.  However, their poor judgments and thrifty bank accounts will remain.  So, half our youngsters will be duds after 3 years and the other half will mature into stars that will sign elsewhere.


Great teams are able to have down years around .500 but quickly return to contenders in 1-2 years because they do have the brainpower to spot steals in the draft and in free agency.  They also realize that profits come from consistency not ups and downs.


Best local example - Braves from 1991-2010?  They kept the roster intact but made the necessary adjustments to make sure they won the division.  They should have won more than 1 series but that was not due to lack of opportunities.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

What is the rush to go back to losing 55 to 60 games a yr -- I don't think that is anything to look forward to.  Look at the Braves -- do you want that?

mic404
mic404

@FreeAgentFan I agree it's like fans here want to stay in rebuilding mode forever. Hawks did it already and came back with the same results, a decent but not great team. Rebuilding is never the answer.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@mic404: ". . .it's like fans here want to stay in rebuilding mode forever."

_____________

Well, that's exactly what they want. Satisfaction with mediocrity is their mantra.

Why do you think the city's known far and wide as "Losersville"?

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

Why is there no talk of getting rid of Howard too?  If we get rid of Millsap, we might as well get rid of him too even if we have to absorb some of his contract. 

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@jlrhoya  Howard is still putting up decent numbers especially for a center this day in time -- I really do not want to blow up this roster that is playing a bit better of late right now -- even without Korver they can still have a decent yr -- not championship yr but they are in the 4th seed

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

@FreeAgentFan @jlrhoya But is he really going to show any desire to keep up those #'s with a bunch of players around him with 1-3 years of playing experience?


As for #'s, Millsap is still putting up good numbers also and is basically the same age as Howard.


The biggest mistake this team made was dumping Teague who is only 28 and was clearly the leader of the team - Schroder does not possess these traits.  We could have kept him at least one more year and still got Howard.


As for Horford, he was overpaid by the Celtics and could not been justified and really Howard has been a better fit for our team.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@jlrhoya  I have had no problem with the Howard sign -- and I would have moved Schoeder instead cause they got nothing for Teague.  Agreed that Horford was overpaid and was not worth the max deal.  I do not get the hurry to throw a potentially decent competitive yr to go back to the back o the pack its not like they will get star material for whom they will trade

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

We already have one lost franchise in this city with the Braves who are long done -- now with moving Milsap we have two laughingstocks.  We have a 90 loss MLB team and will have a 50 plus loss NBA team with what Mr Bradley is proposing.  You want 2000 through 2007 again?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FreeAgentFan

"2000 through 2007 again"???

Better sharpen up those math skills. It's actually 1966 through 2016--so far, with '95 the only exception.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@DawgNole Well, the 2000-07 stretch is the worst period in the ATL history of the Hawks -- most of the time they have been watchable if not championship caliber

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

You really want to turn this into the 76ers South Mr Bradley???


falconfever
falconfever

I like Bazemore as a person/ hustles, but cannot throw it in the ocean. Might be a good move on Korver as he has slowed. Offer Milsap or get what you can. let Muscala play more/him and Hardaway can shoot.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@falconfever  We overpaid for Baze for sure.  But getting what you can get is sometimes garbage -- better keeping Milsap and at least having a respectable team in tact for another yr -- rebuilding is for losers it never gets better look at the Braves.  I do not want the future -- it promises nothing

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FreeAgentFan: ". . .rebuilding is for losers it never gets better look at the Braves."

_______________

Well, it never gets better in ATL--although, ironically enough, the '95 Braves still represent the one and only exception in 50-plus years of pro sports competition covering five teams and ~170 seasons.

gama1mom3
gama1mom3

@FreeAgentFan @falconfever I would keep Paul. Too bad we can't package Kent Bazemore and Dominique Wilkins and bring back Danny Ferry. I can't believe the Hawks gave away Jeff Teague and paid a second team role player like Bazemore big money. 

KBP
KBP

I love Milsap but he is not a cornerstone player for a championship team. As good as he is, nobody doubles him. If your best player does not get doubled on the offensive end and in Milsaps case, he'll be 32, you can't build around him. He would be lights out in Toronto because he would be one heck of an upgrade over Noguiera. He would take pressure off of DeRozan and Lowry and be very formidable with Valenciunas in the paint.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@KBP  What does Toronto have to offer us?  If its scrubs then might as well ride out another respectable yr with Paul and build when you have to -- rebuilding is an excuse for losing

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FreeAgentFan: ". . .rebuilding is an excuse for losing."

_______________

Well put--and ATL teams have been doing both for more than half a century.

Kent832
Kent832

I agree totally with vwill59.  Offer Millsap a max contract and build around it.  He wants to stay and very few free agents want to come to Atlanta.  If Millsap is traded, the players received won't be as good, and if he leaves as a free agent, the new free agents signed also won't be as good.

moboman
moboman

Huge difference between getting what you can for a 36 year old, and a 32 year old.  Remember that Korver was 32 when ACQUIRED and gave some great years to Atanta.  If Sap will agree to extend, I would keep him.  If not, its ok to trade him, but the deal would have to be an offer we couldnt refuse.  

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

Said it before say it again hire a GM!!!!!!! If I was a coach I would pick who I liked instead of who could be TEAM minded. Not necessary the right choices. Can we get real again?

moboman
moboman

@SouthGeorgiaStrong Agreed.  A separate GM allows a more business approach, not weighed down by personal relationships with the players.  You have to have both and separate.

mic404
mic404

Mark Bradley like all the Atlanta sports writers like to see our team lose. We blew the Hawks up years ago after Steve Smith and Mutombo, and went on a 8 yr playoff drought. The team that emerged out of all that was Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith. We went 8 yrs of rebuilding to only get back to the same place we started, a decent playoff team.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@mic404 Why are you blaming Mark for the fact that the Hawks' rebuild didn't work out the way we hoped? It's his job to write about the Atlanta teams. He's pretty good at it.

mic404
mic404

@RonMexico These guys Bradley and Schultz are the same writers who said they couldn't see the Falcons winning more than 6 games this seasons, now they praying they don't win a championship.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@mic404

You're ignorant.

It's a helluva lot more fun to cover winning teams than losers.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@mic404 @RonMexico  At least Schultz was against the Braves perennial meltdown but Bradley is for the Braves losing 90 games a yr

JimmyFalcon
JimmyFalcon

The new owners asked for it when they let Ferry go.  The old owners deserved to go for what was said, not him.

vwill59
vwill59

I couldn't disagree more with trading Millsap, You keep him and add to your roster as he is your best player and anything you get in return for him will not move the needle to more wins.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@vwill59 Add who to the roster? He's gone after this season whether we like it or not, so why hold onto him and get nothing when he walks away? There's nothing the Hawks can do to be legitimate contenders this year -- that ship has sailed. Now it's about forming a new core.

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

@RonMexico @vwill59  Prince and Bembry for starters, and they will have 3.5 mil and a bunch of picks to package with Dunleavy/Scott/Splitter for another piece.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@RonMexico @vwill59 I know these guys make a lot of money but don't you think these guys are embarrassed when they watch opposing teams come into their arena, only to be treated like the home team by the fans. That matters to players.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RonMexico: "There's nothing the Hawks can do to be legitimate contenders this year -- that ship has sailed."

________________

THIS year???

Hell, what about the other 47 years?!