The point? Atlanta keeps wavering on its Millsap stance, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he emerges again as a trade candidate before the trade deadline. Removing him from the market could just be a leverage ploy.
Millsap can be a free agent this summer, and multiple teams – including Denver, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers – had an interest in making a deal for him, sources said.
What would the Lakers trade for Millsap? The Hawks reportedly wanted a substantial first-round pick, but the Lakers can’t guarantee conveying one until 2021. The Lakers have plenty of intriguing young players, but dealing them for a player on an expiring contract would probably be a mistake (though Julius Randle would be somewhat superfluous in the short term with Millsap).
On the other hand, the Lakers are hardly immune from mistakes. They could delude themselves that being just two games from playoff position warrants accelerating their timeline – especially given Jim Buss’ pledge.
I’m inclined to give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt: They’re interested because Millsap is a good player, and who wouldn’t be interested in a good player? That doesn’t mean they came close to matching Atlanta’s lofty asking price.
This leak benefits the Hawks, who want to demand maximum return if they make Millsap available – which can be accomplished by emphasizing the number of suitors. It also benefits the Lakers, who want to appease impatient fans who are looking for a quicker fix.
But that doesn’t mean a Millsap-to-Lakers trade will happen. Those are just reasons for either or both sides to insinuate it might.
Still, it’s worth monitoring the Lakers’ Millsap interest as the trade deadline – and free agency – approach. Even if Atlanta never makes Millsap available in a trade, this could indicate the Lakers’ desire to sign him next summer.