The Hawks are beginning their fire sale. They just bequeathed Kyle Korver to the Cavaliers for next to nothing and now they are prepared to send Paul Millsap packing his bags. There is no shortage of teams that are interested in his services, chief among them being the Raptors, the Hornets, the Kings, and the Pelicans.
And also.. the Denver Nuggets.
The 31 year old Millsap is definitely no joke. He is a 3 time all-star, a solid defender, and a versatile offensive threat.
A power forward who can hurt you inside..
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As well as outside..
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He is also a soon-to-be free agent though, and this is where teams are slowing down in their pursuit for him. The Hawks are definitely shopping him, but is a couple of first round picks plus a some young assets worth a half season rental? For a team like the Raptors, that’s not an issue; the addition of a player of Millsap’s quality alone would be a huge boon in their race to upset Cleveland in the east. The issue for the Raptors is finding a package of players and picks that would satisfy the Hawks. Same goes for the rest of the teams, who will have to throw the sink at Atlanta and give up a key chunk of their team for the short term, and then hope that Millsap decides to at least give them a long look towards resigning with them when free agency rolls around.
The Nuggets however, are on a different planet when it comes to getting Millsap.
They have no shortage of young assets. Will Barton anyone? How about Jusuf Nurkic? If the Hawks want more players with experience, take your pick of Wilson Chandler, Danillo Gallinari, or Kenneth Faried. How about the top 5 protected 1st round pick from Memphis? (Hey, you never know) Or even a Mike Miller/Jameer Nelson veteran’s minimum combo? (Just kidding on that one) The Nuggets even have 3 second round picks to throw into the discussion and maybe, just maybe, may entertain entreaties for someone like Gary Harris or Malik Beasley.
The point is, the Nuggets are one of those rare teams that are flexible enough with cap space, assets, and picks to actually make an offer that might get the Hawks to part with their talented forward. I think there is little argument on that. The question is, what will be the team’s goals once Millsap is among them?
It’s no secret that the Nuggets biggest weakness is defense. Coach Malone pointed it out after they were shredded by Sacramento. Would Millsap help the Nuggets on that end? I’m not sure. Millsap is certainly a solid individual defender, and he has always been a quintessential pro. But defense is a team effort, one that the whole team has to buy into, so I doubt his presence would be felt as much as most would hope.
Offensively Millsap on the Nuggets would fit much better. He’s an offensive threat inside and out, from the block to the wing, off the dribble or spotting up. He rebounds well, and hasn’t averaged less than 3.1 assists in the past 4 years. I personally think the offensive chemistry between Millsap and Nikola Jokic could be electric, and having an offensive forward as dynamic as Millsap could potentially further Nuggets guards development. In late game situations the Nuggets would have a proven player to go to as a closer. His professionalism may rub off on these Nuggets in a way that Miller and Nelson never could, just because he is still a borderline all-star who plays the game the right way. The only question left is: Should the Nuggets go for him?
To be honest, I think they should..BUT ONLY IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Paul Millsap is a great player no question. But he is not that type of difference maker for Denver. The Nuggets won’t be a Western Conference finalist with his presence, and they aren’t promised to keep him after this season. The best case scenario is a middle of the pack slot for the Nuggets, and is that worth what they’d possibly give up? If the Hawks want pieces that the Nuggets want to give away/aren’t afraid to lose, then I am all for it. If not, then the Nuggets should continue to stay focused solely on this season, on solidifying their defense and on improving their young core.