Just when you begin to think you understand what the Hawks are doing, they take a turn in the totally opposite direction. Atlanta traded Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers and were beginning to listen to offers for all players with expiring contracts. Paul Millsap being the most interesting name of the bunch. Millsap has been an all-star in all three seasons with the Hawks and is headed to a fourth one this season after another stellar first half. But after the Hawks recent winning stint, Atlanta has reportedly taken Millsap off the trade block, deeming him too valuable.
There is no denying the importance of Paul Millsap under Coach Budenholzer. Nobody could have imagined the type of player he would blossom into when he first signed with Atlanta. He has been a true stat-sheet stuffer extreme and the ultimate professional. He even took a hometown discount in his last contract to stay in Atlanta. However, basketball is a business, and the business side of things suggest the Hawks need to trade Paul Millsap before the deadline.
When Atlanta traded Kyle Korver to the kings of the eastern conference, they basically waived the white flag on their season. Korver was not who he once was, but he was still the best shooter on the Hawks and one of the best in the entire league. The Hawks already lacked shooting, something that has become absolutely necessary to compete at the highest level, and they traded away the best thing they had going for them to their biggest competition. A move before the deadline has to be made. The Hawks can not just stand pat at this time.
If Atlanta is really hell-bent on competing now, they have to take some of these draft picks they have compiled and trade for another piece. There are rumors of stars like Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler being on the trade block. Atlanta likely has acquired enough assets to interest these organizations, but a move like this would be extremely risky. The Hawks would be risking all of their future to challenge the likes of Lebron James in his prime with an inferior team. Not exactly a wise decision.
That is why the Hawks have to take the alternate route and hit the rebuild button. Sure, Dwight Howard did not come to Atlanta for a rebuild, but this is not about Dwight Howard. This is about the Hawks who are at a fork in the road, and need to make some tough but necessary decisions. Paul Millsap will be 32 in February and set to earn the largest contract of his career this offseason. Millsap deserves a fat final contract, but the team who pays him will be paying a star exiting his prime. The last thing the Hawks need to do again is sign up for another huge contract that locks them up financially in the future. Millsap needs to be traded, which would open up the doors for most of the players on the Hawks to be available.
The suitor that makes the most sense for Millsap is the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors know first-hand the type of player Millsap is, and Millsap spent time playing with Demarre Carroll in Atlanta. Toronto has expressed constant interest in Millsap before, but a deal has never been reached.
A deal between these two teams would make so much since for a numbers of reasons. Toronto believes they are already the team best-suited to face the Cavs, but certainly are going to need some help to do so. Millsap would be a perfect fit to that team, that desperately needs to add toughness and skill in their frontcourt. Toronto also has the necessary assets to make a deal with Atlanta. The Raptors may not want to part ways with their current or future talent for possibly only a half of a season of Paul Millsap, but Toronto should have a convincing case to re-sign him and compete for championships for years to come.
Other teams like Oklahoma City, Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers have expressed interest in Millsap.
If a Millsap trade does indeed happen, a fire sale of Atlanta players would likely ensue. Tim Hardaway Jr., Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Scott and others could find there way to other cities. It is not what anyone wants to see, but Atlanta needs to rebuild. The Hawks messed up by letting Al Horford walk for nothing and they cannot do the same with Millsap. They have already began to stockpile draft picks and future assets and they need to continue to do so before the trade deadline. The future of the Hawks organization is still bright, but the right moves have to be made in the coming weeks.