The Hawks want to keep Paul Millsap but there likely will not be a maximum contract offer made to the four-time All-Star power forward.
New general manager Travis Schlenk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that retaining Millsap remains a priority. However, he acknowledged that Millsap may receive better offers elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent next month.
“We are going to make Paul our best offer,” Schlenk said. “Will he have better offers? I don’t know. Do we want to keep Paul? Sure. I said last week, if you are building a team with all the things I’ve said, Paul checks all those boxes. He’s a hard-worker. He’s a good guy. He’s high-character. Skilled. He does all that stuff.
“We’d like to have him. The reality is, he might get better offers than we can make him.”
Millsap is eligible for a maximum contract projected at five years and $205 million from the Hawks or four years and $152 million from another team. The possibility that Millsap could get a better offer elsewhere would indicate the Hawks won’t offer the maximum.
Millsap, 32, would be 37 at the end of a five-year deal. Millsap could be open to a contract of less salary or fewer years, perhaps with incentives, to remain with the Hawks. A maximum contract offer from another team is a strong possibility.
Schlenk said he has met twice with Millsap’s representation with a breakfast meeting just after his hire and a tour of the team’s soon-to-be completed practice facility last week.
Schlenk has said several times that his philosophy, developed as an assistant general manager with the Warriors, is to avoid bad contracts and accumulate players with tradeable deals. Schlenk cautioned that the skills of a player and not merely the terms of a deal determines a bad contract.
“I’ve also said a contract level depends on the player,” Schlenk said. “Certain players, whatever Steph Curry and Kevin Durant get this summer, that’s going to be a tradeable contract.”
Millsap led the Hawks in scoring at 18.1 points per game last season. He also was second in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and a top defender. In determining Millsap’s overall value, several intangibles must be considered. He was a leader and team spokesman on many occasions. His involvement in the issue between Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder was important to maintaining team chemistry in the midst of a playoff run.
Schlenk said the NBA Draft on June 22 is the main concern early in his tenure. The Hawks have three selections and need to restock a roster that could be without Millsap and that has five other unrestricted free agents and one restricted free agent.
“I’m focusing on the draft rather than Paul,” Schlenk said. “It’s (being discussed) in the room but right now, No. 19 (the team’s draft pick) is the most important thing. I can tell you we want Paul. We want to keep him. He checks everything.”
Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler has said that he was willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Millsap. However, he said at Schlenk’s introductory news conference earlier this month that he hired the general manager to make the final decisions regarding basketball operations.
The NBA free agency period begins July 1.
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