Rumor: Hawks looking for substantial first round pick as basis of Paul Millsap trade

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Kyle Korver has been traded from the Atlanta Hawks and is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Next up is Paul Millsap, who the Hawks are actively shopping to suitors including the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, and Toronto Raptors.

But what will it take to pry the multi-talented big man away from the Hawks?

Atlanta is looking for at least a first round pick as the basis of compensation when it comes to any Millsap trade, according to ESPN.

That would be a good start, given that the trade for Korver was made for a first round pick that is likely going to end up somewhere toward the bottom of the first round in 2019.

Via ESPN:

The Hawks, sources say, want at least one quality first to headline a Millsap deal. The Raptors, meanwhile, have to decide whether a deal for Millsap closes the gap on Cleveland sufficiently to part with quality assets and justifies the expense involved to re-sign him in the same offseason All-Star guard Kyle Lowry is due for a new deal.

Millsap makes sense for a lot of teams on paper, but the biggest issue is still whether he would be willing to re-sign where he gets traded to.

The 31-year-old forward has an early termination option when the 2016-17 season ends and he will almost certainly take it.

It may be a hard pill for teams like Denver and Sacramento — who desperately need a star-level player like Millsap — if he decided to opt out and then sign elsewhere, effectively swapping a first rounder for a half-season rental.

Toronto is more intriguing, given it seems as though Millsap would fit well both offensively and as a defensive bolster to an underwhelming squad on that side of the ball.

But the Raptors have to re-sign Kyle Lowry this offseason and Toronto has to consider both trade assets given up for Millsap and the possibility of going into the luxury tax to get him.

Without Lowry’s contract — which in itself has a player option for $12 million this year — the Raptors have about $89 million in committed salary for 2017-18 according to Basketball-Reference.com, with slightly less than that in guaranteed money.

The salary cap for the 2017-18 season hasn’t been set yet, nor has the luxury tax line, but any combination of big-money deals for both Lowry and Millsap would put the Raptors right up next to it, if not slightly over.

We’ve still got some time to go before the trade deadline in February, but things are heating up on Millsap and it will be interesting to see how NBA teams weigh out the consequences of trading assets for a player of his age and in his contract situation.