First ‘JunkYard Dog’ Demaree Carroll walked away two years ago from an Atlanta franchise that gave him a chance to earn a multi-year contract from the Toronto Raptors. Then Al Horford walks away as a Free Agent last summer after hearing that the Hawks signed Free agent Dwight Howard. Atlanta has not been a free agent destination mainly due to mediocrity team success and lack of young upcoming talent.
Throughout recent playoff history Hawks have been swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in back to back years with basically the same roster. Many fans think it may be time for a mix-up by going with younger prospects, looking more to the future.
As an 11-year NBA veteran, Millsap will be eligible to sign a five-year max contract that could be worth around $207 million if he stays with the Hawks. He can get around $154 million over four years should he move to another team.
Paul Millsap has been an all-star in back to back years and doesn’t look like he’s slowing down soon. But questions about his long term commitment to the Hawks have been raised when the news came down that Millsap has planned to “look at all options” come July.
At the trade deadline Hawks made it immediately clear that Millsap was untouchable, we will now see if that was the right thing to do now that the Hawks have been struggling and may find themselves a couple games from not making that playoffs.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski sat down with Atlanta Hawks General Manager Wes Wilcox to discuss the future of Paul Millsap and stated that, “Paul is not on the trading block and is our first priority this summer when he becomes a unrestricted free agent”, also finished by stating that “we did take a look at one point this season when we were struggling, but we agreed how valuable he is and how he means so much to this team.”
This makes you wonder if the Hawks could have received assets for Millsap such as young talent and draft picks for this years’ loaded draft, instead of losing him for nothing.
Millsap has been battling some left knee tightness in the midst of a March collapse. He came back from his break Sunday vs the Nets in which he came off the bench. Budenholzer said Millsap responded well to his first game back and the workout Tuesday. “I thought Paul today was good,” Budenholzer said. “He had a good practice. It’s a lot to expect a player to come without playing eight games and really is first full contact was in a game setting. I thought Sunday he was OK, not great. He missed some shots that normally he will make. As far as full minutes on Thursday, that is to be determined. We’ve still got to keep Paul’s health, the big picture and how we get through five games in seven days and preparing for the playoffs.”
Later post-game Millsap stated, “Overall I felt pretty good,” Millsap said. “I missed a lot of bunnies. It’s to be expected missing that many games. Rhythm is a little off. I felt good. I like the way we are headed. Just can’t wait for the next game.”
The Hawks sit at the seventh seed with five games left, including a game tonight against the Celtics, and back to back matchups with Cleveland this weekend. The other two games are against the Kemba-led Charlotte Hornets and the last game of season against a hungry Indiana Pacer team trying to slip into the final playoff spot.
Schroder when asked about the team’s mindset heading into the last few games of the regular season,
“Everybody knows this is go time,” Schroder said. “Like I’ve said before, we can beat anybody but we’ve just got to be locked in. Everybody has to do what they do. Things they do well, we need that from them. “It’s five games, we’ve got to fight for the playoffs. We are going to take care of that. Going into the playoffs, we have to be sharper.”
Millsap when approached with the same question by the Atlanta Journal Constitution after Sunday’s debacle, “At the end of the day, we’ve got to get some wins. We know that. We’ve just got to make it to the playoffs. As long as we get there, we feel like we have a good chance.”
It seems like the Hawks are in good spirit but only time will feel as the season wraps up next week. Thabo Sefolosha has no time table for return according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sefolosha does not appear close to a return. He has missed the past five games with a strained right groin. Budenholzer said there was no update on a timetable for Sefolosha’s return.