Paul Millsap

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Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

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The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Report: Atlanta in negotiations to hire Golden State assistant GM Travis Schlenk as Hawks GM

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The Atlanta Hawks brought in some big names — Chauncey Billups most recently, they thought about Brent Barry, they took a swing at Portland GM Neil Olshey — but in the end, they went with the guy who has paid his dues, comes from a great team culture, and someone who deserves a shot. In short, they made the right play.

The Hawks are in talks to hire Golden State assistant GM Travis Schlenk to take over the big chair in Atlanta, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Atlanta Hawks are working on a contract agreement to hire Golden State Warriors executive Travis Schlenk as general manager, league sources told The Vertical. Barring any unforeseen snags, a deal could be completed as soon as Wednesday, league sources told The Vertical….

Schlenk has spent 12 years in the Warriors’ front office, including the past five as assistant GM under Bob Myers.

The position was available because Mike Budenholzer has stepped away from the coach and GM role with the team over a disagreement about direction. Now that direction question falls on Schlenk’s shoulders: Paul Millsap is a free agent this summer, should the Hawks re-sign him to a max deal and likely be a 4-6 seed for the foreseeable future, a good but not great team, or start the rebuild now? What to do about Dwight Howard and the two-years, $47.3 million he is owed? How much do they want to pay Tim Hardaway Jr., he is a restricted free agent?

Schlenk is a quality hire, a guy respected around the league who should make well thought out decisions. But he walks right into a room of tough decisions.

Report: Hawks made pitch to talk to Blazers’ GM OIshey for their job, got shot down

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Portland’s Neil Olshey is one of the more respected and aggressive team president/GMs around the league. When Portland makes a move, rarely does it not have sound logic behind it (even if it doesn’t always pan out as hoped).

Atlanta has a vacancy at the GM spot, so they decided to be aggressive themselves and see if Olshey — who is under contract — was available. Turns out, no.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Atlanta’s new GM is in an interesting spot, Paul Millsap is a free agent, and the team is at a crossroads: re-sign him to a max deal and likely be a 4-6 seed, good but not great team for a few years, or start the rebuild now. Mike Budenholzer, the coach and now former GM, stepped down because of a disagreement about the future direction. He was down with the rebuild, which means ownership may not be.

At least it sounds like ownership is willing to spend on someone who has done the job before.

James Harden, LeBron James headline All-NBA Teams

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James Harden was a unanimous First Team choice.

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook came within one vote of the same (one voter each had them on the second team).

While we aren’t going to know who won MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or other NBA awards until their new ceremony June 26 (after the Finals and Draft), the All-NBA teams had to be different. Because it impacts bonuses and future contracts — most notably if players qualify for Designated Player max deals this summer — teams needed to know early, before the Draft. So on Thursday the NBA released the prestigious All-NBA team, a snapshot of the best in the game.

Here are the three All-NBA teams:

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota, 50 (2); Chris Paul, LA Clippers, 49; Marc Gasol, Memphis, 48 (2); DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans, 42 (2); Paul George, Indiana, 40; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 27; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, 18; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 14; Klay Thompson, Golden State, 14; Nikola Jokic, Denver, 12 (1); Damian Lillard, Portland, 12; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 1; Blake Griffin, LA Clippers, 1; Al Horford, Boston, 1.

These were voted on by 100 members of the media, their votes will be made public June 26 with the rest of the award voting. (Full disclosure, I was one of those voters.)

The big takeaways: Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Stephen Curry (already an MVP) are eligible for Designated Player max contracts. In the case of Leonard it would be five years at around $217 million, and while he would sign next summer it wouldn’t kick in until the summer of 2019. Wall can sign his extension this summer (he has more experience) but his deal will not kick in for a couple.

However, Paul George and Gordon Hayward did not make an All-NBA team, which could impact their summers because now the Pacers and Jazz cannot offer their stars those Designated Player max contracts. (That contract is only for players who make the team the past year or two of the last three, or are a former MVP.)

In the case of George (who made all-NBA regularly before his leg injury, now has not made it two of the last three), that means the Pacers may consider trading their star this summer. George is a free agent in 2018 and there is a lot of buzz he is going to leave (either to a contender or the Lakers), and Indiana’s new man in charge Kevin Pritchard may feel he needs to get something for George rather than just let him walk. However, the trade market for George will not be robust because teams feel he wants to be a free agent in 2018, so he could be a one-year rental.

For Hayward, it means the Jazz can only offer a little more than other teams — about $2 million a year more on average over the deal, but also a guaranteed fifth year, so it works out to $46 million more guaranteed (but Hayward would get paid somewhere that fifth season, just not as much). That may be enough to keep him, he likes Utah, but it’s known Boston — with Hayward’s college coach Brad Stevens — and other teams are going to come hard at him.

Some will question putting Anthony Davis at center, but he spent 64 percent of his time on the court this past season at the five (as tracked by Basketball-Reference.com). That likely will not be the case next season with DeMarcus Cousins in the picture.

Report: Wes Wilcox wanted to trade Paul Millsap, Mike Budenholzer wanted to keep Hawks intact

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The Hawks reportedly explored trading Paul Millsap then told him they wouldn’t deal him last summer. During the season, they again reportedly put him on the market then told other teams, Millsap himself and the public he’d stay in Atlanta.

Why the confusion?

The answer could partially explain why the Hawks demoted Mike Budenholzer (former president) and Wes Wilcox (former general manager).

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Sources said Wilcox wanted to move Millsap and go all-in on the rebuild, focusing on the team’s young talent like Schroeder, Hardaway and rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry. But Budenholzer, who had the final say on personnel moves, and who had approved the trade of Teague to Indiana last summer, nixed any more potential deals.

Millsap’s future is first and foremost. (No matter who is picked as GM, Millsap will be dealing directly with Ressler on his contract going forward, I’m told.) Budenholzer and the owners want to do everything possible to re-sign him — “there’s no disagreement on whether we’re going to try and keep him, and whether he’s great for the Atlanta Hawks,” Ressler said.

If he’s negotiating directly with Hawks owner Tony Ressler, that bodes well for Millsap re-signing. Ressler said Atlanta would “make every effort imaginable to keep him” – which would presumably start with a max contract, projected to be worth $205 million over five years. Even Wilcox sounds on board (not that he has much choice once the boss sets the directive).

The Hawks are in a tough spot, forced to pay Millsap major money from age 32 to 37 or lose him for nothing. If they let him walk, they’d be saddled with a highly paid and maybe unhappy Dwight Howard and an only passable young core comprised of Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince, Tim Hardaway Jr. and DeAndre’ Bembry. Keep Millsap, and the upside is a playoff series or two per year.

Trading Millsap would have prevented this dilemma, though it also might have kept Atlanta out of the playoffs this year.

At this point, moderate winning seems to be the Hawks’ preferred choice, but they don’t control the situation. As an unrestricted free agent, Millsap holds most of the cards.