The deal between Atlanta and Cleveland which will send Kyle Korver to the defending champs should be finalized sometime today. The two teams are still trying to find a third party to take Mike Dunleavy Jr in the exchange. The news of the deal came on Thursday, and it's surprising because Atlanta sits at 5th (19-16) in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. Although they are in no way threat to challenge Lebron and Co for a finals appearance, had they added a piece of two instead of subtracting it wouldn't have been out of the question for them to make the conference finals.
However, since they've told Korver to hit the road they are clearly waiving the white flag. It might seem a little crazy to give up midseason when you're in the thick of the playoff mix, but probably the best decision for the Hawks to get something for their good players on expiring deals if they don't think they have a real shot - and speaking of guys on expiring deals:
Sources: Atlanta discussed Korver parameters with a few contenders, but Cavs stepped up with first-round pick. On deck: Paul Millsap.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) January 6, 2017
Perhaps the best player the team has happens to be expiring as well, and Atlanta is definitely going to try and unload the 32-year old Paul Millsap before the trade deadline. Millsap is averaging 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds and shooting 49.5% from the field, so he could be a major boost for a team looking to bolster their front line. He can be quite a dynamic scoring threat, and has the chops to put up monster games in the playoffs. There's already a handful of teams lining up to obtain his services:
Woj: "Toronto, Denver, Sacramento, New Orleans and Toronto are among teams with an interest in Millsap, league sources said."— CelticsLife.com (@CelticsLife) January 6, 2017
Toronto must really want Millsap to be listed twice. It's interesting that the Celtics weren't mentioned, as we've talked here about Millsap being a potentially great fit in Boston. Although these rental type deals can be tricky, and Millsap having a player option for next season (21.4 million) muddies it up a little more. Millsap will definitely command a much higher price than Korver did on the trade market, but teams have to look at how long they'll be able to retain his services. They'll want to have a ballpark figure of what it's going to cost to keep him beyond the season. Is he leaning toward picking up his option for next year? Or is this a three or four month rental?
There's likely zero chance Millsap is picking up that option, as at 32 he's going to want to get one more big contract while he's still near the height of his game. Although he's a good fit I don't see him landing in Boston because Danny Ainge is not going to send any of our best assets for a rental, and a deal built around Terry Rozier and future 1st (non-Brookyln) doesn't really make sense for Atlanta since they have their point guard of the future in Dennis Schroder. It also doesn't seem likely that Ainge would be interested in extending Millsap beyond this season.
Marc Stein of ESPN has a little inside track on what the Hawks are looking for:
The Hawks, sources say, want at least one quality first to headline a Millsap deal. The Raptors, meanwhile, have to decide whether a deal for Millsap closes the gap on Cleveland sufficiently to part with quality assets and justifies the expense involved to re-sign him in the same offseason All-Star guard Kyle Lowry is due for a new deal.
It's quite possible that Millsap ends up being the best player available before the deadline. With the Kings making a playoff push DeMarcus Cousins seems to be off the table, and who knows what they are doing in Chicago. If he does end up in Toronto that could be bad news for the Boston Celtics.
Photo Credit - David Zalubowski/AP
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401 Mark Allison 1/07/2017 01:01:00 PM Tweet Edit