Four-time All-Star Paul Millsap had another superb season for the Atlanta Hawks in 2016-2017, averaging 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
As one of the league’s top two-way frontcourt players, the 6’8” 32-year-old is set to become a free agent this summer and by all indications, he will be one of the most coveted players on the market.
However, it appears as though the Hawks do not plan on offering him a max contract.
Via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks’ new general manager Travis Schlenk admitted that Millsap might receive better offers elsewhere.
“We are going to make Paul our best offer,” Schlenk said. “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.”
Due to his All-Star status, Millsap is eligible for the “super max” of five years and $205 million. If he signs with another club, his maximum contract would be for four years and $152 million.
Since Millsap is a veteran in his early-30s, a five-year deal would take him until he’s 37 years old, at which point he would likely not produce at an elite level.
According to Vivlamore, Schlenk has been very clear that he will avoid bad contracts and will accumulate players with tradable deals at the helm of the Hawks. As the former assistant general manager for the Golden State Warriors, he is a firm believer that the elite level of a player, and not the market, should determine how lucrative a contract is.
“I’ve also said a contract level depends on the player,” Schlenk said. “Certain players, whatever Steph Curry and Kevin Durant get this summer, that’s going to be a tradeable contract.”
However, Schlenk is focused on the upcoming draft on June 22, which comes before the free agency period that begins on July 1.
“I’m focusing on the draft rather than Paul,” Schlenk noted. “It’s (being discussed) in the room but right now, No. 19 (the team’s draft pick) is the most important thing. I can tell you we want Paul. We want to keep him. He checks everything.”
Atlanta has three selections in the draft and along with Millsap, five unrestricted free agents and a restricted free agent will test the market.
Therefore, the Hawks might look entirely different when the 2017-2018 season tips off this fall.
Given the current market and judging from the inflation in contract terms from last summer’s free agent class, Millsap will receive a max deal somewhere. The question will be whether or not he opts to remain in Atlanta or look towards a new opportunity.