And then the Hawks hired Travis Schlenk as general manager.
“We are going to make Paul our best offer,” Schlenk said this week. “Will he have better offers? I don’t know. Do we want to keep Paul? Sure. I said last week, if you are building a team with all the things I’ve said, Paul checks all those boxes. He’s a hard-worker. He’s a good guy. He’s high-character. Skilled. He does all that stuff. We’d like to have him. The reality is, he might get better offers than we can make him.”
The Hawks are in a pickle.
Locking a 32-year-old Millsap into a max contract, projected to be worth $205 million over five years ($41 million annually), isn’t ideal. Most players decline at that age, and Atlanta isn’t even ready to win more than a playoff or series during the front end of that deal.
But losing Millsap, projected for a max elsewhere of $152 million over four years ($38 million annually), would also bring complications. The Hawks aren’t positioned to replace him in the short-term, and Dwight Howard would be wasted on a team rebuilding around Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. The Atlanta market might not tolerate rebuilding, anyway.
There are different people on both sides of the negotiating table, but the Hawks just lost Al Horford after offer him only a little less than the full max. That gives Millsap room to leave and frame the organization as the problem rather than taking the brunt of the blame from Atlanta fans himself.
I don’t envy the Hawks. There’s no good answer here.