ATLANTA (AP) Paul Millsap didn’t need long to decide whether he should return to Atlanta or leave for Orlando.
He believes the Hawks offer a better chance to win an NBA title and wants to keep building on last season, when Atlanta won a franchise-best 60 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
Millsap’s new three-year, $58.9 million contract – a deal that was reported last week – became official Thursday. The Hawks and Magic were the last two teams he considered.
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”I felt like I’ve been here for two years and that I was one of the guys who helped this thing get to where it’s at with the team that we had,” Millsap said in a conference call with reporters.
”We feel like there’s still room for improvement, and we feel like we can reach our goals.”
Millsap’s deal was the most significant in a busy day for the Hawks, who added depth to the roster by trading for center-forward Tiago Splitter and by signing center Walter ”Edy” Tavares and guard Justin Holiday.
In his second season with the Hawks, Millsap led the team with averages of 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 15 double-doubles. He hit a career-high 77 3-pointers and averaged 3.1 assists.
Coach Mike Budenholzer said re-signing the two-time All-Star was an offseason priority.
”His toughness, versatility, high basketball IQ and unselfishness (are) representative of the culture we are building,” Budenholzer said in a statement released by the team. ”We are excited that he will remain a part of our family.”
The Hawks lost starting guard DeMarre Carroll to Toronto in free agency, but they added Tim Hardaway Jr. in a draft-night trade with New York and acquired Splitter after sending the draft rights to Georgios Printezis and a future second-round pick to San Antonio.
”DeMarre’s not going to be with us, but we’ve still got a lot of our core guys coming back,” Millsap said. ”We’ve made some good additions. We’ve got guys coming back off injuries. We definitely feel like we can compete. We want to build off of last year.”
To clear room on the roster, the Hawks requested waivers on forward Austin Daye, who signed a multi-year contract in April.
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Splitter averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first five NBA seasons with the Spurs.
Splitter, who’s expected to back up Millsap and center Al Horford, has two years remaining on his contract and will earn a total of $16.8 million. Splitter has started 40 of 65 career postseason games.
Holiday, the brother of New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday, played in 59 games last season for Golden State, averaging 4.3 points and 1.2 rebounds. He played in five postseason games for the NBA champion Warriors.
Atlanta drafted the 7-3, 260-pound Tavares in the second round last year. He played professionally in Spain for five seasons and last season averaged 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 57 games for Gran Canaria.
Millsap’s deal has a player option for a third season, giving the contract a $58.9 million value. The 30-year-old Millsap is expected to make $20 million next season.
Millsap had hoped the Hawks would bring back Carroll and keep a starting five together that includes Horford, point guard Jeff Teague and shooting guard Kyle Korver.
”DeMarre’s like a brother to me,” Millsap said. ”We grew close together. I’m sad to see him go, but I’m definitely excited and happy for him. I feel like he made a great decision, and I support him. I support him. He was a big part of what we accomplished. Other guys will have to step up and fill that role.”