Report: Four-time All-Star becomes free agent, still interested in playing in Atlanta

A somewhat surprising name is entering into the NBA free agent fray this offseason.

Instead of taking finishing the rest of his contract this coming season with the Atlanta Hawks and earning a cool $21.4 million, Paul Millsap will instead enter free agency, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo’s The Vertical.

Millsap turned down his player option after a season where he reached the All-Star Game for the fourth consecutive year.

His numbers for the 2016-17 season were some of his best yet, as he scored a career-high 18.1 points and grabbed 7.7 rebounds. He also added 3.7 assists and was a valuable defensive piece for the perennial playoff team.

Millsap helped the Hawks to the playoffs in each of those last four seasons after coming over in free agency in 2013 from the Utah Jazz, where he was an unheralded force down low in the Western Conference.

The accolades have come after his move to the East but Millsap probably still doesn’t get the credit he deserves as one of the league’s best frontcourt players.

Millsap is probably smart to opt out now, if only because he’ll get a nice amount of guaranteed money on a long-term deal, possibly his last big money deal as he will turn 33 halfway through next season.

So, where does he go from here?

Early indications are that Millsap is inerested in re-upping with the Hawks, who have called Millsap’s contract situation a “top priority” going into the offseason.

But Millsap – and the Hawks for that matter – have to wonder where exactly they are going from here.

With the Hawks and the Jazz, the 6-foot-8 forward has played in nine postseasons in his 11 seasons. However, he has been to the conference finals just twice, getting swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with Atlanta in 2014-15 and then losing in five games to the San Antonio Spurs as a rookie with the Jazz in 2006-07, where he averaged just 15 minutes a playoff game.

The 47th-overall pick in 2006 has had an unquestionably successful NBA career, but with probably one more big pay day left in his career, the former Louisiana Tech player has a decision to make.

Stay home and try to make it work with coach Mike Budenholzer alonside teammates like Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroeder, or perhaps explore the market.

Millsap would be the type of player that a second-tier contender – such as Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City or Washington – would love to add to the mix of an already strong core.

We’ll see if Millsap has mutual interest.

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