Ressler says ‘every effort imaginable’ to keep Millsap

Paul Millsap celebrates a 116-98 Hawks victory over the Wizards with fans after Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Paul Millsap celebrates a 116-98 Hawks victory over the Wizards with fans after Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler says has every intention of re-signing Paul Millsap.

The team held on to their four-time All-Star at the NBA trade deadline despite a swing of strategy that went from just listening to potential offers to actively pursuing a deal before pulling him off the trade block altogether.

Ressler said a deal seeking his final approval to trade Millsap never reached his desk last February. And if it had, Ressler used a profane acronym to sum up his seriousness of not dealing the power forward. His intention is to keep Millsap a Hawk beyond the season.

“We love Paul Millsap,” Ressler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. “We are trying to re-sign him. We want him to stay here. We think he is a really special player and a special person that we want on our team and in our locker room and we are going to make every effort imaginable to keep him.”

Millsap has a player option for next season at $21,472,407 that he will most certainly opt out of in order to become an unrestricted free agent. The Hawks could lose Millsap for nothing in return, a scenario that played out last season with Al Horford. Ressler is well aware of the inherent risk.

“We kept Al at the trade deadline, we made the playoffs,” Ressler said. “We kept Paul at the trade deadline, we made the playoffs. We get calls for players. We love Paul. We are going to try our best to sign Paul. I promise you that. If we lose Paul, which we desperately don’t want to do, we move on. We pull up our plan and we move on.

“But the goal is not to lose Paul. Paul is exactly the kind of player I love on the Atlanta Hawks. I don’t know how else to say it. I’ve said it to Paul. I’ve said it to you. I’ve said it to whoever has one ear, let alone two ears. Paul Millsap is a great guy, on the court and off the court. The NBA is a complicated place. The range of income for these players and the number of year that they have to maximize their income makes it a complicated business model.”

Millsap would be a due a considerable pay day once he enters free agency with maximum deal offers likely to come from a number of teams, including the Hawks. The Hawks have the advantage as they can offer Millsap more money and an additional year. Yet, the same was true regarding Horford.

Current projections for the 2017-18 season have the salary cap of $101 million. From the Hawks, a maximum deal would be five years for $205,030,000. Millsap could also take just a four-year deal from the Hawks for $158,368,000 and forgo the fifth season when he would be 37 years old. From another team, a maximum deal would be four years for $152,005,000.

Millsap has said he would love to remain in Atlanta. He chose to remain with the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent two years ago. Ressler said he believes the Hawks are a better team with Millsap.

Ressler said he not bothered by trade talk involving Millsap earlier this season. It’s part of the business. He has the final decision. And Millsap is part of the Hawks’ business.

“Did certain people have discussions based on calls they got? I have no idea,” Ressler said of the rumor. “I think that’s what basketball operations people do for a living. I actually believe the more they do that, the more it gets in the public domain. Yes, I read some of the stuff. Yes, I was told people call and people ask. We are in the Paul Millsap business. At least we are trying our best to be. Our job is to try to make him want to be here, both financially and emotionally. We are trying. That I can promise you.”

MILLSAP MAX

Here is what a maximum deal would look like for Paul Millsap with the current projection of a salary cap of $101 million for the 2017-18 season. The Hawks can give 35 percent of the cap with an eight percent raise given for five years. Another team can give 35 percent of the cap with a five percent raise for four years.

Year Hawks Other
1 $35,350,000 $35,350,000
2 $38,178,000 $37,117,500
3 $41,006,000 $38,885,000
4 $43,834,000 $40,652,500
5 $46,662,000 N/A
Total $205,030,000 $152,005,000

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