Paul Millsap is one of the more interesting free agent names on the market, mainly because it wouldn’t seem as though the Atlanta Hawks can afford to let him walk.
But at age 30 and after nine NBA seasons, this may be Millsap’s last chance at a large payday, and when looking at the way things played out in Atlanta over the second half of the season and into the playoffs, it’s worth wondering if the same level of success can be expected by simply bringing everyone back.
It was never a sure thing that the Hawks would come at Millsap with a contract at or near the five-year max. But now, some unexpected competition may end up forcing their hand.
Boom: Paul Millsap met with Orlando Magic in Atlanta at 12:01 last night, high interest between both. Will decide between Magic and Hawks.
Seeing Orlando emerge as a real option for an All-Star free agent like Millsap comes as a bit of a surprise, but the Magic have plenty to offer.
There’s no state tax in Florida, so contracts signed with teams there end up having a significant level of extra value. And the Magic have a nice young core of guys like Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, and added Mario Hezonja in this summer’s draft.
Orlando may lose restricted free agent Tobias Harris, though the team can choose to keep him by matching any offer he receives. Millsap would be a nice complement to him or provide an upgrade as a replacement, but after a successful 60-win season in Atlanta that concluded with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals, it would seem likely that Millsap would return if the Hawks are willing to max him out.
Mike Dunleavy was a key member of a very good Bulls team last season, so much so that LeBron James was lobbying for the Cavaliers to go out and get him behind the scenes.
Cleveland is up against the cap, however, and will have very little to spend after James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson all get paid this summer. And with Dunleavy liking his fit in Chicago, he quickly agreed to re-up on a reasonable deal to remain with the Bulls.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
ESPN sources say Chicago Bulls are closing in on a three-year, $15 million deal to bring back in-demand swingman Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy started in all 63 of his regular season appearances for the Bulls, and averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per contest. More importantly, he was an above average three-and-D guy, knocking down 40.7 percent of his shots from three-point distance while being a tough-minded defender who was never afraid to mix it up.
Really nice signing for the Bulls, especially at that price.
The Blazers are set up to undergo a significant overhaul of the roster, after a disappointing season that ended with a first round loss in the playoffs to the Grizzlies in what was a short five-game series.
Nicolas Batum has been traded, and LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to be gone very soon in free agency — and that’s only the beginning.
But the team is locking up Damian Lillard for the foreseeable future.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
ESPN sources say Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard are nearing agreement on a five-year max extension with in excess of $120 million
This is a wise move by the Blazers, and Lillard is absolutely worthy of the investment. But it’s worth noting that if Lillard was willing to accept the extension at this time, then the team really had no other choice.
There’s a strong chance that all four members of the lineup that started the bulk of the games in Portland last season alongside Lillard won’t be back. In addition to Aldridge and Batum, Robin Lopez and Wes Matthews are both unrestricted free agents who could command significant interest from other teams. Same goes for Arron Afflalo, who was a late-season pickup and started 19 games.
You’re looking at a roster right now that features Noah Vonleh, C.J. McCollum, Mason Plumlee, and not much else. Signing Lillard for the maximum number of years allowed ensures at least one star is in place, but it may be a while before we see others join him in what’s looking more and more like a rebuilding situation.