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Report: Atlanta Hawks listening to trade offers for All-Stars Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver

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Al Horford left last summer, and now Paul Millsap might be the next big name out the door in Atlanta as the Hawks organization is undergoing a major on-court shift.

Millsap has been expected to opt out this summer because, as a 10-year veteran, he can chase a massive, $35 million a year payday with a new deal. That apparently is not going to be happening in Atlanta. Chris Haynes tweeted about the issue, then Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN added details.

S‎ources told ESPN.com that the Hawks, fearful of losing Millsap in free agency in the summer without compensation, are not openly shopping him but taking calls on the 31-year-old and their other pending free agents, notably sharpshooter Kyle Korver and swingman Thabo Sefolosha.

Although the Hawks managed to sign Dwight Howard in free agency last summer to fill a frontcourt void, they were stung by the free-agent departure of Al Horford from the perspective that Horford, in the words of one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking, got away “for nothing.”

The feeling within the organization now, sources said, is that it’s best to gauge the trade market for Millsap, Korver and Sefolosha between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline to guard against a repeat scenario as much as the Hawks can.

Millsap is a three-time All-Star with a versatile game — he can score around the basket, he can hit threes (30.8 percent this season), he is a smart defender who plays very well as a help defender in the system (he’s made the NBA’s All-defensive team), and he is strong on the glass. He could fit into any system. Plenty of teams could use him.

Kyle Korver can still space the floor as a shooter, and Thabo Sefolosha is a “3&D” wing who still defends well but who has struggled some with his shot.

The Hawks will not get near equal return for Millsap, in part because he can be a free agent and seems to want to test the market — he’s a rental. Millsap also is going to be expensive to keep, demanding a max contract that he would be able to live up to for a couple of years, but he will turn 32 in February and in a four or five year deal the last year or two could see him in decline (and still very expensive).

Korver and Sefolosha also could be rentals, which will depress their trade value.

Also factoring into the trade equation: How badly do the Hawks want to make the playoffs. As of Sunday before games started they are the five seed in the East, but in the middle of a large group — only four games separate Charlotte at the four seed and Orlando with the 11 seed. Without Millsap, the Hawks could easily fall out of the playoffs.

Atlanta has Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder, and Kent Bazemore locked up for a few years, but are undergoing an organizational shift now that will test Mike Budenholzer’s skills as a GM and team builder.

LeBron James on Lakers clinching No. 1 seed: ‘They said I couldn’t do it’

Lakers star LeBron James
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The Lakers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

LeBron James, via Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

“They said I couldn’t do it.”

“I’ll enjoy this one,” James said, nodding as he grinned. “They said I can’t do it.”

The Lakers entered the season fifth in the West in over-under wins (behind the Rockets, Clippers, Jazz and Nuggets).

But nobody credible thought the Lakers couldn’t get the No. 1 seed. With LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers obviously had that type of upside. Their championship odds were far more favorable. The main doubts stemmed from how seriously LeBron would take the regular season.

That said, in the age of social media, players hear both more praise and more criticism than ever before. LeBron surely heard from haters who ruled him out. Crowning himself the Washed King, LeBron probably internalized that fringe opinion.

Many players find slights to use as motivation. It worked for Michael Jordan. It works for LeBron.

But it does sound silly when an exalted player like LeBron talks this way.

Report: Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president because team didn’t spend enough

Pacers owner Herb Simon and executives Donnie Walsh, Larry Bird, and Kevin Pritchard
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Paul George said he left the Pacers because they weren’t willing to spend enough.

Apparently, he wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president in 2017, citing a desire to do more things outside basketball. Yet, he also reportedly had another reason.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Indiana is a small-market team that consistently has not gone out and paid big money. We know that this was something that frustrated Larry Bird, who is a legend in the state of Indiana and elsewhere, I might add. It frustrated him enough that he stepped aside.

Pacers owner Herb Simon has a certain way of doing things. Indiana hasn’t paid the luxury tax since 2006, the first year the tax line was set before the season.

Despite that, the Pacers have been pretty good. They’ve qualified for the playoffs nine of the last 10 seasons, peaking with appearances in the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference finals.

Still, Indiana has lost in the first round four straight years. Another first-round loss appears the most likely outcome for this season.

That’s not exactly satisfying for players who want to win championships. Spending big isn’t absolutely necessary to compete on the highest levels. But it helps.

Pacers star Victor Oladipo is approaching 2021 unrestricted free agency. He’s a competitor who’ll evaluate, among other things, whether his current franchise matches his ambitions.

It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Simon can decide his own limits. But there are consequences of his spending restraint – especially as perception grows about his relative thriftiness.

J.J. Redick describes thought behind meme: ‘I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing’

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J.J. Redick has made the playoffs all 13 of his previous NBA seasons.

The Pelicans have put that streak in jeopardy.

New Orleans lost its first two games in the bubble, a nail-biter against the Jazz and a rout against the Clippers. During that loss to L.A., cameras captured Redick – on the floor exercising his back while out of the game – with a distant stare that became an instant meme.

Redick on ESPN Daily:

I was angry we got our butts kicked. It’s embarrassing, and I think my face summed up that first half pretty well.

There’s so many circumstances you could apply the emotions that I was going through in that moment.

Redick is right: That meme fits many occasions, which gives it staying power.

However, it has plenty of competition. Though the feelings displayed aren’t the exact same, Redick didn’t even have the best reaction inside the bubble by an exasperated NBA player. That belongs to Nuggets star Nikola Jokic:

At least Redick got reason to perk up. The Pelicans beat the Grizzlies yesterday to gain ground in the playoff race.

Darren Collison says talk of him playing for Lakers was “overhyped”

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Darren Collison shocked the NBA last summer when he walked away from the game at age 32 — and a likely contract in the four-year, $70+ million range — and retired. His reasons were legitimate, he wanted to focus on his religion — “While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith,” Collison said at the time — but the league has seen a lot of players say they were walking away for good reasons only to come running back.

The rumors about a Collison return started just after January 1 and spun out of control in Los Angeles when he sat with Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss at a game.

Collison stayed retired, and told the “Minute til 6” podcast it wasn’t even close. He was never coming back.

“To keep it 100, they overhyped the whole thing. Like, I wasn’t even thinking about coming back.”

That game he went to? He just came to watch his friend Russell Westbrook.

“I just wanted to come watch the game as a fan.”

Collison also is smart enough to know how him sitting with Buss would be perceived.

Collison was wanted. The Lakers run LeBron James at the point but could have used the veteran Collison in the role Rajon Rondo filled as a secondary playmaker (Rondo is currently out with a thumb injury). Collison was rumored to the Clippers as well, and Doc Rivers can always find a way to use more guard depth.

Collison, however, seems at peace with his decision. If he wanted to return, he would have done it last summer for 10 figures a season, not for the minimum in January.