You make the call: Should the Hawks keep Paul Millsap?

Paul Millsap, once and future Hawk? (Todd Kirkland/AP photo)

If the Atlanta Hawks re-sign Paul Millsap, they’ll have kept a certified All-Star who’s not quite a superstar. Assuming he gets a five-year contract — only the Hawks can offer him five years; all other teams top out at four — at max money, he’ll get something in the neighborhood of $205 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy who’s not quite a superstar and who, at deal’s end, will be 37.

If they don’t re-sign Millsap, they’ll have a team that centers, figuratively and literally around Dwight Howard. Nobody wants that. (Note that the Hawks couldn’t find a way to keep him on the floor in the fourth quarter of two playoff losses.)  They’d have money to spend on another free agent — Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry figure to declare for free agency, but nobody expects them to go anywhere — but the biggest name apt to change teams is Blake Griffin, who just got hurt yet again.

If you’re the Hawks, there’s your dilemma: Keeping Millsap wouldn’t come with any assurance they’re apt to get better, and they just went 43-39; not keeping him would almost certainly make them worse in the short term and maybe the long. The third option would be to let Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., who’s a restricted free agent, and essentially start again, but it’s hard to start again if you don’t have a lottery pick, which these Hawks don’t. (Although, without Millsap and Hardaway, they’d probably have one next year, and the year after that.)

This is roughly the same ground the Hawks occupied when Al Horford became a free agent last summer. Keeping him wouldn’t have made them Eastern Conference champs; not keeping him saw them slip from 48 wins to 43. The difference is, the Hawks without Horford still had Millsap as a focal point; the Hawks without both would have, er, Howard.

Adding to the festivities: Starting anew would require some sort of master plan. The Hawks are currently between master planners.

So, then: Audience participation time. What should the Hawks do? And I thank you, as ever, in advance.

Oh, and here’s my conclusion, such as it is: Why the Hawks would be better off without Paul Millsap.

Reader Comments 0

62 comments
tyger
tyger

Re-sign Hardaway Jr. ASAP...


THJ is one move they got right...

Price tag increased b/c of productivity...

Trading away while arcing upward is dumb...

Not ready for primetime (playoffs) keeps salary reasonable...


Lottery picks are crap shoots...especially w Hawks...

Tony Parker, #28, Kawhi Leonard #15, Manu Ginobili #57..

Proves you don't have to tank to acquire upper level talent...


Exiting death spiral of tanking non-guaranteed...

see 76ers, Nets, Twolves, Lakers, Boston...


Yes, Boston...Big Al turned that around, not Young, Smart, Rozier...

All fine backups... but tossing seasons for backups not ideal...  

Plus, Boston, Lakers' fans spoiled, can grin, bear for future chips...


Not so much in ATL...2-3 consecutive duds, they'll be in Seattle...

Kensdobs
Kensdobs

The Hawks should let Milsap walk & resign Hardaway, Muscala, Kelly & Illyasova. They should then draft a center & a PF to backup, & ultimately replace, Howard & Illyasova respectively.  They also need to sign or draft a PG that can defend, penetrate & break down DEF's. 


That would give us an active roster of


PG Schroeder-draft pick or FA-Delaney

SG Hardaway-Bembry

SF Prince-Bazemore

PF Illyasova-Kelly-draft pick

C Howard-Muscala-draft pick


The reduced production, we'd surely get with Illyasova replacing Milsap at PF, would be compensated for by us starting the season with Prince at SF in place of Sefolosha, & Hardaway at SG in place of Korver or Bazemore.


Getting better production from Bazemore, Bembry, Muscala, Kelly, & our backup PG & center, would definitely give the team a boost. This roster would not only give us a playoff caliber team, but give us additional young talent to develop & replace certain vets at positions of need.


tyger
tyger

Hawks Easy Button 1.0


Shroder         Calderon     Mason (54)

Hardaway Jr.  Bembry     Delaney

Prince            Poythress

Gay                Motley (31)  M.Scott

Howard         Patton (19)  Humphries

FridayNightLights
FridayNightLights

No way is he worth a max contract considering his age et, al. They definitely need a master plan but it is not going to be a quick fix. They pursued the "no plan" road map for the last couple of years and now look where they are. Wake me up in a few years when they might be fun to watch again. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@FridayNightLights: "They definitely need a master plan but it is not going to be a quick fix."

______________

Doesn't appear that it's going to be a slow fix either--based on the past half-century.

ByteMe
ByteMe

Not even good trade bait in 2 years if you give him a max contract.  Forgeddaboutit.

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PamelaN.McGray

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Tobias10
Tobias10

Hawks need a real GM before anything. Give Joe Dumars a job.

Tobias10
Tobias10

Green Machine lost all credibility when he put Schroeder and superstar in the same sentence. Schroeder isn't better than Jeff Teague. He should be a backup PG at best. I don't know what the Hawks should or can do but they are lost as a franchise. We can't do the little things right. Who else remembers that they drafted Kelly Oubre and immediately traded him for nothing the same night. These are the small moves that could be the difference in changing a team. Gotta hit rock bottom and hope to find a gem through the draft like OKC did several years ago.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Tobias10 You're analysis of Denis Shroeder is silly and makes no sense. I like Jeff Teague, but he had reached his ceiling as a player for the Hawks. While I agree with you regarding the state of the franchise, I do think the Hawks need to start over and get this thing right. To me, Joe Dumars is not the answer. As for Kelly Oubre, that may have been a mistake, and unless they resign Hardaway at a reasonable price, I think that trade would look even worse.

green machine
green machine

@Tobias10 i disagree tobias10 and i did like jeff teague a lot.  but teague was very inconsistent as well.  teague was definitely at his best when attacking the basket and shooting his floater or finding an open shooter--only problem is that the last year and a half or so--he decided he was a jump shooter and he's not!!!  


i said i think shroder is close to superstar status--he closer to that status than teague is now in my opinion.  shroder also has many more years to obtain that status as jeff is a little older and doesn't seem to have too much drive.


the timing of that move was right--now dennis will make a lot of mistakes and do some crazy stuff--but this season and especially in the playoffs--i had as much confidence with him as anybody wearing the hawk uniform.


as far as oubre goes--you can have him!  i've never been impressed with him...didn't we make a trade or something involving him???

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Tobias10: "I don't know what the Hawks should or can do but they are lost as a franchise."
____________

They ARE indeed--as they HAVE BEEN for most of their half-century in ATL.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@David McCallum: ". . . I do think the Hawks need to start over and get this thing right."

_____________

Nearly half a damn century without even an appearance in the Finals--and we need to "start over."

That says it all about ATL pro sports.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@DawgNole @Tobias10 The worst place to be in the NBA is consistently finishing in the middle. The Hawks, for the most part, has done exactly that.

JoanneTHoerrloie
JoanneTHoerrloie

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moboman
moboman

I like having Millsap on the team, but not for 200 million.  Thats another Joe Johnson tie up too much $$ on a player who is good but NOT a superstar.  He's a great asset, but not at that price.  And at 32, we would be greatly overpaying at year 3, and stuck in no mans land as a franchise -- no success, and no high draft picks.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

The Braves are a great example of where they let virtually everybody go with the expectation of great things later.  Instead, the Braves are still waiting for these youngsters to develop and resorted to signing old, washed-up players this year to at least be competitive.


The Hawks could let Millsap and Hardaway go and think that just having a lottery pick is a route to certain success.  However, even if you are the worst team, you are not necessarily going to get the first pick.  Further, there is usually only 1-2 lottery picks a year that truly ever develop into a Durant, James, Westbrook or elite player.


I say keep Millsap and Hardaway and give Prince, Schroeder and our other youngsters at least a chance to develop.  Otherwise, by dumping Millsap, the Hawks might as well just trade away our entire team for draft picks.


Also, even if we draft a good player, what is to say he will actually be as good of character and a true leader on the team as Millsap is.


As for Howard, there has got to be a team that would take him for at least a benchwarmer (probably with us still paying half his contract). 

David McCallum
David McCallum

@jlrhoya What you're saying is that you have accepted that the Hawks will continue to be a middling team stuck in no man's land. You are essentially right about lottery picks, for the most part. I think you should consider that no superstar player is coming to Atlanta, regardless of money. All things equal that player will go someplace else. The Hawks are in the unfortunate and difficult positions of having to find their superstar via the draft, which is virtually impossible picking in the middle of the draft which they are accustom to doing. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@jlrhoya: "the Braves . . . resorted to signing old, washed-up players this year to at least be competitive."
_________________

To at least be competitive???

This year???

Clearly hasn't worked very well--so far, at least.


David McCallum
David McCallum

@DawgNole @jlrhoya What choice do the Braves have? Unfortunately, all ATL professional teams are in that predicament. The Falcons may be on the verge of figuring things out. Despite how some fans may feel about Arthur Blank, he is the sole difference between the other two owners, willing to spend money to field a winning product and capable of winning a championship. 

Mike
Mike

Let him go, grab some high draft picks for the next couple of years while Dwight hobbles around the court, in the mean time we can watch the Falcons. Our owner is an idiot by the way.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Mike Why is everyone putting the Hawks failures on Dwight Howard. I don't understand that. As far as I'm concerned he did his job, both rebounding and defensively. 

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Mike Why is Dwight receiving so much negative attention? Quite frankly, Dwight actually did what he was brought to Atlanta to do. You fans kill me with your whining. Stop it! If you guys really want to blame someone - blame management. 

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mal habibi

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SWAT_Native
SWAT_Native

Letting Milsap go means at least five years in the lottery. As a season ticket holder, I say no!

David McCallum
David McCallum

@SWAT_Native Or virtually no chance of winning an NBA title and salary cap hell for the foreseeable future. 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Watching the caliber of play no going on in the play-offs is depressing for Atlanta Hawks fans. The realization that Hawks are a long, long way from where they need to be to compete beyond a first series elimination is nothing but sad and bleak. 


Big mistake giving player personnel to the head coach. Coaches react to players much differently than the business suits do. And their personnel and financial decisions are often based on the respect they hold for the player the see in practice and the guy out their leaving 100% + on the floor in practice and night in and night out in games. But in the NBA, talent is what matters because lots of  teams leave 100% + on the floor all the time (the Hawks being one of them) but that does not always translate to the number of wins necessary to really compete at season's end. Coaches can be influenced by that, but the suits who create the best teams call that a given and look for more, far more. Bazemore is an example of a guy who will always give 100% but not get you into the finals.  


The Howard fiasco is reminiscent of BJ Upton fiasco the Braves endured. At least Coach Bud had the guts to sit Howard down, unlike Fredi Garcia with BJ, and thereby losing many winnable games with BJ at the plate. A huge and costly mistake, but did any one knowing anything about NBA basketball and where the style of play necessary to win is going? Did anyone not really know that a dinosaur was brought on board?  


With that big mistake that will keep on giving for the next two years, the Hawks have no choice but to trade Milsap. They cannot risk another Horford fiasco and get nothing for Milsap. 


Why would Milsap stay any way, if he could finish out with a high quality team? (And please ignore all the "I love Atlanta, I love the Hawks, I love the fans, I love coach Bud, blah blah blah," etc. (see Al Horford). And then be stuck paying Howard $23.3 million per year for two more years. 


Milsap carried a huge burden being the only real NBA caliber starter  in the line up. Howard and Bazemore (another big financial mistake) are both second teamers. Hopefully Bazemore's little soiree into the starting line up has not ruined his great off the bench presence that he once had. Schroeder is a first teamer ability wise, but a second teamer emotionally and as decision maker. Plus, he has way way too many turn overs. Will age improve him? Don't know. Hardaway, Jr. can be streaky, but maybe he will improve, and Prince is a real prospect - the only one they have. 


The Hawks need to get someone for Milsap. For financial as well as competitive reasons. 

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

@Ficklefan Actually, you hit a great reason why the Hawks should resign Millsap.


If we resign him, we could still possibly trade him later on in the next 5 years.  However, if we just let him walk now, we definitely get nothing.

moboman
moboman

@jlrhoya @Ficklefan No ones taking him in a trade with a 200 million salary.  The chance to get something for him has passed.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Ficklefan: "At least Coach Bud had the guts to sit Howard down, unlike Fredi Garcia with BJ . . . ."

______________

Fredi Garcia???

Who the hell is that?

And you claim to be "fickle"?!

David H Seo
David H Seo

Get rid of him. I like paul but he deserves better and so does the city of Atlanta. Do not overpay again for someone that will do absolutely nothing to improve our team from last year

green machine
green machine

i love what paul has done for us since he's been with us but unfortunately i do not see how we can afford to sign him for what he's probably worth!  it's simply too much for an above average player.  paul can't be THE centerpiece!  i'm sorry--his game is aging and he can't get his own shot like the other "true" superstars can.  i say we have to find a way to sign a blue-chipper like a paul george, jimmy butler or a gordan heyward.  get one of them--add that to shroder, prince and dwight and see how they run.


we don't have one superstar and you need at least two and really 3 to compete for a championship.  george, butler and heyward are superstars:  shroder in my opinion is getting close to superstar range--howard used to be a superstar and hopefully prince continues to get better.  


pg:  dennis

sg:  heyward/george/or butler

sf:   prince

pf:   illyasova

c:    howard


probably aint winning you a chip but it's better than the team we put out there this year.


what was wrong with:

pg: shroder

sg: korver

sf:  carroll

pf:  milsap

c:   horford


?????????????????????????????????????????


we couldn't wait to break that team up--sure looks pretty dang good now!  yea they were swept two years in a row by cleveland but the cavs are sweeping everyone they play.  should have tried to figure a way to add to this team--it was one superstar away!

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@green machine  We could not keep both Millsap and Carroll unless both agreed to pay cuts.  We did not have "Bird rights" on them, so we were not able to retain both unless they would agree to accept less than they were asking for.  Turns out we were fortunate that Carroll went to Toronto.  He's their overpaid problem now.

green machine
green machine

@SupremeGrandPoobah @green machine i guess but i think had we been able to keep carroll he wouldn't be struggling here.  he was exactly what we needed--he was a slasher, moved the ball on offense and his jumper was improving here.  we was an effective offensive rebounder too.  on defense he was way above average.  now if you are counting on him to shut down lebron james--well yea he's going to have trouble doing that!  but so is everybody.  


cleveland, san antonio, gs warriors, clippers, and a bunch of other teams find ways to keep players--not sure how they can do it--but we need to figure it out.  go into the luxury tax if you have to.  that team was really good--they were not a fluke!  they were a team that relied on each other--moved the ball until they got the shot they wanted and drilled it most of the time.  


i think the front office gutted it too quick!  that team needed one more piece--that was it!  now-two years later we realize we need 3,4, heck maybe more pieces than that now.

green machine
green machine

@Nick_Danger @green machine why though?  all these other teams have way more talent than that team and they manage to keep their guys or heck even add to them.  cavs, warriors, spurs, clippers, celtics, raptors, etc.


luxury tax?


there had to have been a way to do it...if you really wanted to do it.  problem is--this city panicked when we were swept the 2nd time by the cavs and everyone thought that "these" hawks couldn't get by cleveland.  "those" hawks and one more chip could have gotten by cleveland--but we got rid of them instead of somehow trying to keep them and adding one.


now were in the dreaded blow it up mode...gonna lose milsap for nothing now--same situation--can't afford to keep him!


this franchise can't afford one superstar--let alone the need 2 or 3 to win a championship.  ridiculous!

David McCallum
David McCallum

@green machine @Nick_Danger The one thing those teams have in common is packed houses every time they play. That helps generate revenue. I know Hawks fans don't like when people say this but it is something that cannot be ignored, when considering free agents.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@David McCallum

WIN--and they will come. The Hawks have NEVER won anything of consequence in ATL.

That's NOT the fault of the fans!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@green machine: "now were in the dreaded blow it up mode . . . ."

_______________

Which--in terms of winning championships or even so much as appearing in the Finals--is no different from our mode over the past half-century.

Can'o'corn
Can'o'corn

let him go, trade shroder & howard. 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Can'o'corn 

Schroeder's the only real piece we've got.  He's relatively cheap, and still has a huge upside.

Can'o'corn
Can'o'corn

@Nick_Danger  your second sentence is why we should get rid of him now, that facade of his huge upside. do it now so we can get something for him. 


sorry he's not that good, and his offense isn't beneficial to team wins and he's a liability on defense.