Paul Millsap was terrific during his time here. He made huge strides as a player and was apart of arguably the best Hawks team Atlanta has seen. He was the iron man and grinded every single night for Atlanta.
However, Paul does not meet the Hawks’ current timeframe. It is time for the Hawks to create flexibility and go young, which is what they have done and will continue to do. Though new general manager Travis Schlenk will not use the word rebuild in interviews, it is clear that this is the case. Every member of the starting five of that 60-win Hawks team is gone. The core of the Hawks is now Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr., Taurean Prince and John Collins. 32-year old Millsap just does not fit the time gap for this young core, and that is why the Hawks did not even issue him a contract, per Chris Vivlamore.
Millsap also banked in on $30 million annually with the Nuggets, which is around the same money the Hawks have left in cap space. Atlanta would not even have enough money to field a team if they signed Millsap. However, between losing the cap hold of Millsap and trading Howard, the Hawks are now in a position to wait out free agency this year and pounce in future years. The cap spike has resulted in teams dishing out money like no other and most teams are already very strapped financially after day two of free agency. For the most part, only smaller contracts from the previous CBA will be coming off the books. If the Hawks can find a new home for Miles Plumlee and Kent Bazemore, they could really be in business while other teams are scrambling for funds.
Hawks now have ~$30M in room, become new fear for other teams with restricted free agents seeking a market.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 3, 2017
Zach Lowe also seems to think the Hawks could be a serious threat for restricted free agents. This would be a nice option to save for coming seasons, but this year may not be the time as the crop is not overly impressive.
Overall, letting Millsap walk was the right move, but the fact that Schlenk did not issue Millsap a contract speaks volumes on the future of the team, more than his actual words. The East will not be winnable for at least a few more seasons and now is the time to bottom out to get better.
We wish Denver the best out West with Millsap. He is a great vet to give them a boost in that tough conference and a terrific presence for their young and coming players to learn under.
Thank you, Paul.