It’s probably too early to call the winner of this summer’s free agency (although Cleveland would seem a pretty good call), but there’s no doubt that the Atlanta Hawks were amongst the winners last summer. For the most part, this was down to their signing of long time Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap.
In Utah, Millsap had long been a really good player, but with the cast around him, never quite managed to take that next step up.Perhaps, that was part of the reason the Hawks were able to steal Millsap from under the noses of everyone else in the league. Millsap signed with the Hawks on a two-year, $19 million contract, and went on to spend the rest of his season showing everyone just how cheap that deal was for a player of his caliber.
Last season, Millsap averaged a career high 17.9 points, as well as 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. Not only that, but Millsap added an extra dimension to his game by expanding his range and becoming an efficient shooter from deep.
This resulted in a well-deserved All-Star appearance, the first of Millsap’s career.
For Hawks fans, and the organization itself, there’s still a feeling that they may not have seen the best of the Louisiana native though. Up until Christmas, the Hawks were a free flowing force in the East, sitting in the third seed. Millsap and Al Horford were forming one of the best frontcourt partnerships in the entire NBA, and then disaster struck.
Al Horford went down with a torn pectoral muscle, and the Hawks’ season turned on its head. In the end, it was a testament to the Hawks that they even managed to reach the playoffs, and they would never have managed to do so without Millsap’s top class play and leadership.
With Al Horford set to return from injury for the new season, there’s great excitement, once again, to see how he and Millsap can combine forces. The only problem is there’s a dark cloud lingering on the horizon for Atlanta.
With Millsap’s contract due to expire next summer, the Hawks front office have big decisions to make.
I have no doubt that they would love to keep Millsap, but it seems likely that it would take a bigger offer than what he’s currently earning. As a result, the Hawks have to be open to all possibilities.
Let’s take a look at the three different options the Hawks could take.