A report from Marc Stein of ESPN came out today that Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap is available in the right trade.
Story posting soon with @WindhorstESPN: ESPN sources say the Hawks have begun listening to trade offers for free agent-to-be Paul Millsap— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 1, 2017
Millsap is currently averaging 17.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, and a career high 3.7 assists per game for the Hawks. He is in the second year of a three year contract that pays him approximately $20 million per season. The last year of the deal is a player option though, and Chris Haynes of ESPN reported that Millsap will opt out of his deal in order to pursue free agency.
Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap to opt out at end of season to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 1, 2017
The Denver Nuggets have been linked to the 31-year-old (soon to be 32) Millsap for awhile now, and they have tried to trade for the skilled power forward in the past. According to Zach Lowe, the Nuggets nearly acquired Millsap in a deal for Kenneth Faried and draft picks last July.
It would make sense for the Nuggets to ask about Millsap’s availability again. Denver is currently in position to fight for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, and adding Millsap without sacrificing too much would improve their chances dramatically. Millsap is a top 40 player in the NBA due to his contributions on both ends of the floor, while his skill set would pair very well with Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, and the rest of the Nuggets’ roster.
The question, as always with every trade scenario, is how much the Nuggets are willing to offer. Millsap will explore free agency at the end of the year, so whatever the Nuggets trade, they must be willing to lose for nothing at the end of the season. They can always try and re-sign Millsap, but there’s no guarantee Millsap would re-sign. He would also be due a large contract that would restrict the Nuggets’ flexibility going forward. A three or four year deal worth $30 million per season would not be out of the question for a player of Millsap’s talent and age.
With that in mind, here are two scenarios the Nuggets might explore to bring Millsap to Denver for the rest of the season:
Scenario 1: Millsap for Faried and assets
Nuggets receive: Paul Millsap
Hawks receive: Kenneth Faried, Malik Beasley, 2017 first round pick (via Memphis)
The most likely player to be moved in any deal for Millsap is Kenneth Faried. His salary is a nice match going back to Atlanta, and he can be their temporary starter at power forward. Millsap provides an upgrade over Faried in the system Denver is trying to run, and he would move Wilson Chandler back to the bench, where Chandler could operate as the ideal backup at both forward spots. Jusuf Nurkic would also resume his role as the backup center.
The question will be if Denver is willing to part with a first round pick and Beasley for Millsap’s service. It’s hard to see Beasley finding his way onto the floor for Denver anytime soon though, and the draft pick from Memphis is likely to be in the low to mid-twenties in the draft next year. The Hawks could use those assets to help rebuild though, as they could potentially lock in Beasley and that first round pick for a long time due to the new CBA.
This is my favorite scenario personally, and one the Nuggets should consider.
Scenario 2: Millsap and Korver for Faried and Barton
Nuggets receive: Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver
Hawks receive: Kenneth Faried and Will Barton
At first glance, this seems pretty even, but when considering the impact that both of Atlanta’s players could have in Denver, the Nuggets would win the deal. Millsap would once again slide into the starting lineup and help the starters maintain good offense while playing better defense. On the bench, Korver would immediately come in and be an elite shooter to run around screens and stretch the defense away from the rim. This would help every bench player, including ball dominant players like Jameer Nelson and Wilson Chandler, be more effective with larger driving lanes. Korver would also be an incredible role model for Jamal Murray, while providing an interesting pairing with Jokic in the two-man game. From Atlanta’s perspective, they acquire a starter in Faried and a valuable asset in Will Barton would immediately improve their wing rotation.
Whatever the Nuggets decide to do, there are pros and cons to adding Millsap. He would be everything the Nuggets need right now, but there’s no guarantee that he would be on the roster next year. If the Nuggets do choose to pursue him, they must be willing to lose whatever they offer for nothing. With as many assets as the Nuggets have, they may be willing to do that, and I personally recommend that they explore scenarios to bring Millsap to Denver. He would be an incredible fit with this team right now.
Nuggets would make the playoffs this year with Millsap. And would fit the starting lineup perfectly. His age & free agency are the question.— Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares) January 1, 2017