Of course, the real question becomes “is he really?”
The Atlanta Hawks have won seven in a row and moved into the four seed in the Eastern Conference, which is one reason some questioned why the Hawks would want to move their best player in Paul Millsap, but he was put on the trade market. After looking at that market, the Hawks have decided to pull him off it, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution added these details.
Which brings us back to the first paragraph above: Is Millsap really off the trade market, or is this an effort to extract more out of the teams calling in? It’s a fair question to ask, however, there are several reasons the Hawks may have reached a decision to keep Millsap.
• They really do want to compete in the East — they have an elite defense this season (fifth best overall this season, second best in the NBA the last 10 games) and with Millsap this is a solid playoff team with a chance to make the second round. There is a “get into the playoffs and maybe the breaks go our way” idea that could help sell the Hawks on this path. Management in Atlanta was torn on this issue from the start, not everyone wanted to move on from Millsap, and that may have combined with other factors to kill the trade idea. (The flip side of this argument is they are also not nearly on the level of Cleveland, and likely couldn’t beat Boston or Toronto in a series, so this gambit very likely does not mean a trip to even the conference Finals.)
• The Hawks wanted a “substantial” first round pick for Millsap, and teams were not biting for a guy who is a free agent this summer and could be a rental, or they would have to re-sign with a max contract.
• Atlanta ownership is good with offering Millsap (age 32) the max next summer — as a 10-year veteran, that will start around $36 million a year — and believe they can keep him and be successful with him in the future. (They have been concerned Millap would leave and they would get nothing, as happened with Al Horford.)
• In the past couple of years, under new ownership, the team has become more financially successful, drawing in millennials and people living downtown and in the more urban areas of Atlanta to the games (they changed the focus from trying to get people in the suburbs to drive into town). Trade Millsap and this team is Dennis Schroeder, Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard and not much else — it’s a rebuild/retooling. That could hurt the gate.
It likely is not be one of these things, but a few of these combined. Bottom line is for now, Millsap is officially off the table. Just don’t bet on that being permanent.