Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Atlanta Hawks Should Trade Paul Millsap

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The Hawks are stuck, it’s time to trade Paul Millsap



The February 23rd trade deadline for this NBA season is rapidly approaching and it’s about time the rumors of potential trades that will inevitably never happen start their course.

Superstar players like Demarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Love have been on the imaginary trade market for the past couple of years now without any deals for such players being made.

We haven’t seen too many “big time” trades in the middle of the season since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks right before the trade deadline of 2010.

Looking towards this year’s trade deadline, the same names (Boogie, Butler, etc.) will most likely be floating around the rumor mill much like in previous years, it’s just a matter of whether or not those team’s finally decide to pull the trigger and move on from their stars and out of NBA purgatory.

Enter the Atlanta Hawks. The definition of a “system team” ever since their completely unexpected run for 60 wins just three years ago and somehow managing to get all five of their starters to make the All-Star Game in the same season. It really was something that I had never seen before but it hasn’t seemed to last. After winning 48 games a season ago, the Hawks are currently 18-16 after starting 9-2 this year and fans are starting to worry.

The addition of Dwight Howard and the departure of Jeff Teague seemed like some very well-played and well-timed moves after 15 games, but things went south rather quickly. After a relatively easy schedule to start the season, the losses started to stack up fast. Their defense is arguably top-10 in the league but their offense does not flow like it did when Al Horford was on the team.

Kent Bazemore has been struggling heavily, Howard is nowhere near the specimen he was in Orlando anymore (which is understandable considering he’s 31 now), Korver can’t seem to find the same stroke he had in his first couple years in Atlanta, and while Schroeder is coming into his own on offense, his defense is still a major work in progress. The only bright light on this team now is the man who has been consistent his entire career, Paul Millsap.

Millsap is currently averaging 17/8/3 which are all above his career averages. He is a matchup nightmare as he is incredibly quick for someone so big and his defense is borderline lockdown. Millsap isn’t someone I would call a “system player” (those only exist in San Antonio), as he is bonafide superstar in this league and one of the top 3 or 4 best power forwards the NBA has to offer. This is why the Atlanta Hawks need to trade him.

The Hawks are currently stuck in NBA purgatory, and by that I mean that they have some exceptional talent, but it doesn’t exactly work in way that could propel them to the Eastern Conference Finals, which I would assume is a goal most Hawks fans were anticipating coming into the season, and they aren’t in a position to attempt to tank their season either.

Millsap will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season ends, which would give potential trade destinations time for him to settle into his new team and try to get a long term contract done. Millsap is 31 and what should be the back-end of his career, but his numbers have yet to slow down. 

The Hawks have so much young talent in Schroeder, Bazemore, Hardaway, Malcolm Delany, Taurean Prince, and Deandre’ Bembry, so why should they keep an aging Millsap when they can trade him for rising stars and draft picks?

Millsap, even at 31, has great trade value as there are maybe only two teams in the NBA (Golden State and Cleveland) that don’t necessarily need a player like him. Teams like Portland, Washington, and Oklahoma City, who have stars but need that other guy to get them where they really want to be and Millsap is perfect for any of them.

Millsap has very few notable weaknesses and is a guy who is great at covering up his teammates weaknesses. Throw Paul Millsap on literally any team not named the Cavs or Warriors, and that team is instantly better without having to worry about a gruesomely long transition period. His ability to pass, move, shoot, and defend and do so within the system of his team is extremely valuable.

So where should he go? I’m not exactly a salary cap guru/expert so I’m not sure on the specifics of how he would get traded or who could even logically/financially trade for him, but the interest is 100% there and the Hawks will be getting plenty of calls regarding Millsap.

A couple teams I think he would fit well with include Portland, who needs that Aldridge-esque presence to help cover the deficiencies that come with having a backcourt-centric team. The Washington Wizards, who also have a backcourt-centric team and are weak on the frontline as well. Millsap and Wall would create one of the most dangerous pick n rolls in the NBA and form a literal brick wall down low alongside Gortat. I mentioned the Thunder earlier as a possible destination but instead of them, the team I want Millsap to be traded to is the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets are currently sitting at 19-15, good enough for the 4th seed in the East. Kemba Walker is playing at an All Star level (although he’ll most likely be snubbed due to the plethora of amazing point guards in the East) and the Hornets have a top-10 defense while their offense is considerably better than Atlanta’s at this point in the season along with an incredibly brilliant basketball mind coaching the team in Steve Clifford.

Kemba Walker is a top-5 point guard in the East, MKG is healthy and playing solid basketball, Nick Batum is an excellent all-around player, and Cody Zeller may actually be a good NBA player. The question for the Hornets is who they would be able to send to Atlanta in return. With the caliber of player that Millsap is, no Hornets player (besides Kemba and maybe Batum) is immune from being traded and if the Hornets can make it work, they should do everything they can. The Hornets should throw everything they have at Atlanta in hopes of outbidding everyone else.

The trade deadline hasn’t seen a blockbuster trade since 2010, the NBA is overdue for something crazy and wherever Millsap goes (if he is traded) should tide fans over for the next couple of years.



(Stats via Basketball-Reference)