Hawks take Millsap off trading block

Paul Millsap will not be traded.

The Hawks’ all-star power forward has been taken off the trading block, according to several people familiar with the situation. General manager Wes Wilcox began informing teams on the decision on Monday.

The Hawks took a “long, hard look” at trading Millsap but ultimately decided he is too valuable to the franchise and they want to keep him, according to one person familiar with change of decision. The new mandate may have come from Hawks ownership.

Millsap said last week his heart is in Atlanta. Following the recent news, he is said to be happy with the decision and wants to “finish the job.” Millsap has a player option for next season and can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. While no decision has been made, Millsap will likely make such a move with an increase in the salary cap and his potential for a max or near-max contract.

The Hawks were in discussions with a number of interested teams regarding Millsap. The Kings were one team described as very interested, according to one person.

Millsap said last week that he wanted to remain in Atlanta despite trade talk.

“Rumors are rumors,” Millsap said Tuesday before the Hawks departed for a four-game road trip. “I think we know that. Been down this road before. I think we talked at the beginning of the year that it wasn’t going to be the first or the last time. It is what it is. Whatever happens, I think everybody knows where my heart is and where I want to be. But we’ll see what happens. The only thing I can worry about and I can do is to go out there and play my butt off every night and try to get wins for this team.”

And his heart would be here?

“That would be here, yes,” he said.

The Hawks recently began to look at ways to change the roster after a 16-16 start to the season. They had discussions with teams about several players, including Millsap, Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. Millsap was the biggest name mentioned in deals. At first, the organization was simply doing its due diligence and seeing what the market would yield for Millsap. However, after further internal discussions, a decision was made to seriously consider offers before the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 23.

And now another change. Millsap will remain.

The Hawks traded Korver to the Cavaliers this weekend in a deal that will return a protected 2019 first-round draft pick and Mike Dunleavy Jr. When asked about the new direction of the franchise following the Korver deal, Hawks president of basketball operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer said “I don’t think there should be any assumptions made about anything.”

The Hawks have six straight and 11 of the past 15 games. Going into Tuesday’s game at the Nets, the Hawks were atop the Southeast Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 21-16 record. They are two games behind the third-place Celtics and three games behind the second-place Raptors. All trail the Cavaliers at the top of the conference.

Millsap is tied for first on the team in scoring, with Dennis Schroder, at 17.7 points per game. He is also second in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.