Rumors have started but Millsap not on trading block

The rumors have started.

Let’s take a moment to bring some clarity to what will be frenzied talk from now until the February trade deadline.

A report surfaced Sunday night that the Hawks have begun listening to trade pitches for Paul Millsap, in particular, Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha. Of course they have.

The Hawks were 16-16 just last week. They are two games over the .500 mark after wins over the Pistons and Spurs. The Hawks have been – and will continue – to listen to possibilities on a number of players. I wrote in Sunday’s edition of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Hawks were listening on Korver and Sefolosha. A door didn’t just open for taking Millsap offers. All teams are doing due diligence ahead of the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline.

Here is what is important to remember. The fact the Hawks are listening doesn’t make a trade of Millsap imminent or even likely. Something could happen at some point. However, Millsap is not on the trading block.

Heck, you can add Tiago Splitter and Kris Humphries to the list of potential trades. What if the Hawks, as the Eastern Conference currently is playing out, turn into buyers at the trade deadline? Their combined and expiring salary of $12.5 million could return a decent player for a playoff run.

The Hawks would not be smart if they didn’t talk to teams. This is how rumors start.

The Hawks are not close to trading Millsap at this point. He clearly has been their best player. It doesn’t make sense right now while the team is still trying to figure out a new roster in a conference where they stand fifth, two games out of third place, despite the middling record.

I know the Hawks could lose Millsap after the season (more on that a later) just like Al Horford. There are several in the organization who are not ready to move on from the way the roster is currently constructed. This team proved its willingness to stay with its group last year for a playoff run.

The East is wide open and this Hawks team, despite a 1-10 stretch, have impressive wins over the Cavaliers, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder and now the Spurs.

For the record, the Hawks declined to address the report about player availability.

In addition, a report surfaced that Millsap has already decided to opt out of the final year of his $21.5 million contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Simply, not true. While this is likely, due to basic economics with the increased salary cap and new Collective Bargaining Agreement, no decision has been made. Millsap told me this himself earlier this year and a person familiar with the situation confirmed Sunday that not only has no decision been made but no discussion about one has been had.

Millsap doesn’t need to make the decision now. What if he gets hurt between now and the end of the season? He may just want that $21.5 million salary if that was the case. When the season ends, a decision will be made. Millsap is much more focused on the season at hand.

The other interesting thing you will hear during the next two months is that the Hawks’ asking price was too high. You don’t say? Should general manager Wes Wilcox ask for less than Millsap, or another player, is worth. I believe he is likely to ask for as much as he can get. Teams are always going to ask for as much as possible, especially if they don’t need to move a player. The Hawks could have moved Jeff Teague at the deadline last year. All you heard was the price was too high. Turns out, the Hawks ended up getting a first-round pick, No. 12 overall, for Teague. It was a better deal, especially if Prince develops into the potential of Hawks see in him.

There will be lots of talk between now and the deadline. The pace of conversations could escalate quickly and a trade could occur. Just take a moment and put it all in perspective. I’ll be here.