Paul Millsap Trade Rumors: 10 NBA Teams That Should Trade For Him
Paul Millsap trade rumors have come to the forefront now that the Atlanta Hawks are reportedly open to a deal. Here are 10 teams — complete with trade scenarios — that should try to acquire him.
For years now, the Atlanta Hawks have been unable to nudge the needle from “perennial playoff team” and into “legitimate title contender.” LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been their biggest obstacle in doing so, but after losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague over the summer, the Hawks are closer to rebuilding than contending.
With Paul Millsap able to opt out of the final year and $21.5 million of his contract this summer, the Hawks are in danger of losing their best player for nothing.
Because of this, and because of Atlanta’s middling 18-16 record that’s closer to 12th place in the East (3.0 games) than second place (5.5 games), it’s no surprise to hear the front office is fielding calls for him as Paul Millsap trade rumors run rampant.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst, the Hawks are not openly pursuing a trade, but they are open to dealing Millsap, Kyle Korver and/or Thabo Sefolosha if the right deal comes around. They fear losing him for nothing in free agency, and with Millsap averaging 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game, his two-way value has never been more apparent.
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Millsap is 31 and could be heading for free agency this summer, which limits the number of teams who will be picking up the phone. But he’s one of the most underrated players in the league, and there are plenty of teams who would be interested in adding him — either as a veteran leader on a rebuilding team, or as the missing piece to turn a playoff team into a contender.
Whatever team trades for Millsap would acquire his Bird Rights, giving that team to offer an extra year and way more money in free agency than any other outside suitor.
The question is, which teams should consider taking the plunge? And what kind of trade packages can the Hawks expect in return? Here’s a look at 10 teams that should trade for Paul Millsap, along with what those potential deals might look like.
The Philadelphia 76ers need to trade a disgruntled Nerlens Noel (or Jahlil Okafor) before his trade value decreases even further. Noel is a defensive stud who’s not getting enough opportunity in a crowded Philly frontcourt, and though he’s coming back from injury, he’s going to have suitors around the league.
The Hawks would be playing him out of position alongside Dwight Howard, but they can’t pass up that kind of return if they fear losing Millsap in free agency. However, this would be a major risk for a lowly team like the Sixers, because even with Millsap’s Bird Rights, they’d have an incredibly hard time convincing him to re-sign this summer.
Before Milwaukee Bucks fans get all in an uproar, let’s preface this hypothetical by saying there’s a reason it didn’t even make the top 10. Trading Khris Middleton — right when he’s getting close to returning, no less — would be a shortsighted move for a young Bucks team that has a promising future between him, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
However, it’s a fun possibility to think about, especially in the case of Milwaukee re-signing Millsap this summer. He’d bolster the defense and lend frontcourt versatility to a team that already has the Greek Freak. Atlanta would get the wing scorer, shooter and defender it needs, while the Bucks accelerate their playoff plans since Antetokounmpo and Parker are thriving already.
Los Angeles Lakers:
SG – Lou Williams
The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that desperately needs to avoid this kind of all-in move, especially for a 31-year-old power forward about to hit free agency. The youth movement is in full effect, and patience is a virtue — even for a prestigious franchise accustomed to contending every year.
Then again, Lou Williams‘ trade value has never been higher, and the Lakers would be wise to cash in before this year’s trade deadline.
Giving up Jordan Clarkson and his steal of a contract would be rough, especially to bring in a player who logs minutes at the same position at the power forward spot, but if the Lakers get desperate for a star and veteran leader that they could throw money at over the summer, Millsap isn’t the worst option. Plus, again, that’s why this deal is only an honorable mention.
10. Phoenix Suns
SF – P.J. Tucker
Future first round pick
Like the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns are a team that really needs to stick with its current youth movement and err on the side of patience. They amassed the worst record in the West mostly by riding their veteran starters early on, and head coach Earl Watson is only now committing to finding ample minutes for the youngsters.
However, the Suns definitely need to consider dealing some of their older veterans. Playoff teams could use players like P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler, Brandon Knight and even Eric Bledsoe, and general manager Ryan McDonough would be wise to put out feelers on all of them.
The future belongs to 20-year-old Devin Booker, 19-year-old Dragan Bender, 19-year-old Marquese Chriss, 20-year-old Tyler Ulis and 23-year-old T.J. Warren. Tucker (31), Chandler (34), Bledsoe (27) and even Knight (25) are not on the same timeline.
The Suns should concentrate on dealing those useful vets for future draft picks and young talent, but they also need current talent and veteran leadership to make sure this team isn’t completely unbearable to watch. Enter Millsap, who would have quite a lot to teach Chriss and Bender in the frontcourt.
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Assuming Phoenix also managed to trade Chandler to clear out frontcourt minutes, Millsap’s arrival wouldn’t hold back Bender, who could play the 5 behind Alex Len or at least man more minutes at the 3 with Tucker’s departure. Chriss, meanwhile, could play behind Millsap in the bench role he’s more suited for at this point.
As for Atlanta, they’d be bolstering a wing rotation in desperate need of bolstering. Tucker already gives 120 percent for a bottom feeder team; the prospect of what he’d do for a playoff team is tantalizing.
Knight has struggled in his sixth man role, but Phoenix has just been a terrible fit. It wasn’t long ago he had a career year with the Milwaukee Bucks, and perhaps a change of scenery is just what he needs. The Hawks desperately need backcourt help, with their current backup point guard being Malcolm Delaney.
However, the Suns might have a hard time re-signing Paul Millsap in free agency, even with his Bird Rights, and if they can’t deal Chandler, they’d have a very crowded and old frontcourt rotation.
The Hawks also might not want to trade for Knight, who owns the league’s absolute worst total point differential out of 446 players, since they’d face the same problem Phoenix has: Two starting-caliber point guards who both believe they should be starting. A return of Knight and Tucker just might not be enough to get a deal done, and a pick would probably have to be included.
9. Utah Jazz
Your initial reaction to the Utah Jazz trading back for Paul Millsap might be “LOL,” but it would actually make some sense for both sides — especially if Derrick Favors continues to get so few touches on offense.
Utah’s young core has been tantalizing for years now, but it’s never been able to stay healthy long enough to put a legitimate playoff run together. In fact, 2016-17 will be the first time those youngsters have even tasted a playoff berth.
With Favors currently averaging just 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game, his reinsertion into Utah’s rotation has been slow-going. Perhaps it’s just Utah working him back from injury with extreme caution, but Millsap is the better player between the two.
To be honest, Paul Millsap would be a perfect fit in Quin Snyder's Jazz system… https://t.co/8i47GkeqlF
— David J. Smith (@davidjsmith1232) January 2, 2017
He’s also six years older, sure, but Millsap might be the kick in the ass this team needs to start competing now, rather than carry on at its current pace of hoping this young nucleus eventually figures things out.
For Atlanta, they’d basically be getting a successor to Millsap, only six years younger. They’d have him through at least the 2017-18 season, and then they’d get to tackle his free agency head on. That’s pretty great value for the 31-year-old Millsap, especially as Favors gets healthier and starts putting up better numbers.
There’s one obvious non-starter here, however: the Jazz are already facing the problematic free agencies of Gordon Hayward and George Hill this summer. Adding Millsap and his free agency to the mix would be downright foolish, even if they’d have a good chance of convincing him to re-sign in the city where he spent the first seven seasons of his career.
8. Charlotte Hornets
PG – Ramon Sessions
The Hornets were successful in bringing him back, and between Batum being locked in for the long-term and the best season we’ve seen from Kemba Walker yet, the prospect of re-signing Millsap suddenly doesn’t seem as intimidating.
However, in order to take the next step in the East and add a difference-maker like Millsap, the Hornets would have to give up something good, and unfortunately, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes the most sense here.
Age is a huge factor & Millsap could leave after the season. But moving MKG and possibly Marvin and Lamb to get Thabo or Korver could be big
— Swarm and Sting (@SwarmnSting) January 2, 2017
Adding a quality backup point guard like Ramon Sessions obviously sweetens the pot for Atlanta, but the real gem is MKG, a defensive stud who would bolster Atlanta’s wing defense and hopefully continue to improve that broken jump shot of his.
With Kent Bazemore failing to live up to his gaudy offseason contract, the Hawks could start MKG at the 4 in Millsap’s place, or look to trade Baze and roll with Kidd-Gilchrist at the 3 for the foreseeable future. They’d also improve their backup point guard spot and get much younger in the process.
MKG is locked in through at least the 2018-19 NBA season, including a $13 million player option for 2019-20, on an amazing bargain deal. That would make it hard for the Hornets to deal him, but if the front office wants to take a change and attempt to make the leap in the East, this is one avenue they could pursue.
7. New Orleans Pelicans
SG – Langston Galloway
SF – Solomon Hill
PG – Tim Frazier
SF- Thabo Sefolosha
The New Orleans Pelicans desperately need to get Anthony Davis some help. Despite being only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot, their 14-22 record is far more indicative of the aimless direction of this franchise. The goal is to give this once-in-a-lifetime player the chance to compete to championships, not back into the playoffs for a first round sweep.
While this hypothetical deal would gut the Pellies of their wing depth, it’d also add a certifiable star alongside the Brow, which would be a first. Thabo Sefolosha would help at the 3, though it’d cost a legitimately surprising backup point guard in Tim Frazier.
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New Orleans may have a hard time re-signing Millsap this summer, but the prospect of playing alongside a superstar like Davis — not to mention the Pelicans acquiring his Bird Rights — might be enough to retain him in free agency.
Giving up a promising rookie like Buddy Hield hurts, but AD turns 24 in March. He still has plenty of years left on his contract, but the sooner the Pelicans can start assembling actual talent around him, the better.
It may seem shortsighted, but how long will it be before Hield is ready to be a force in a playoff series? How many more years of mediocre draft picks — preventing them from adding long-term, superstar talent to the Brow — must the Pelicans endure before drastic change is needed?
For the Hawks, they get much younger, adding perimeter shooters in Hield, Langston Galloway and Solomon Hill. This helps their defense with Galloway and Hill, who’d bolster the wing rotation and could even make Bazemore expendable after sending away Thabo Sefolosha. Frazier is an upgrade over Delaney as well.
However, the Hawks would really have to love Buddy Hield to pull the trigger on this kind of deal, and in the middle of his rookie season, it’s unclear just how high his ceiling really is. That’s also a lot of players for New Orleans to give up, especially for a 31-year-old about to hit free agency.
6. Detroit Pistons
PF – Jon Leuer
There’s no doubt about it; Stan Van Gundy’s squad needs a fire lit under its butt. The Detroit Pistons have lost seven of their last 10 games, and are just 5-10 since Reggie Jackson returned. SVG has said he’s not considering roster shakeup yet, but if the Pistons continue to slide out of playoff contention, that could change.
This team should be better than it is, especially when it comes to its three-point efficiency, but perhaps adding a two-way player like Millsap would help the Pistons turn things around. If they could get away with giving up Marcus Morris and Jon Leuer to do so, even better.
Morris has underwhelmed ever since arriving in Detroit, and this season he’s averaging 13.1 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting. Leuer has been a revelation, averaging 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on 50.5 percent shooting, and he’s even taken over the starting power forward job, but the Pistons would be wise to cash in on his trade value now if they can get Millsap.
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 2, 2017
Detroit needs stretch-bigs, and though Morris and Leuer are billed as stretch-4s, they’re only shooting 34.2 percent and 31.8 percent from downtown this season, respectively.
That might dissuade Atlanta from trading for two “stretch-4s” to pair with Dwight Howard in the frontcourt, but Leuer has been playing so well and Morris gives them some extra versatility. Perhaps a switch to Budenholzer’s system would tap into their three-point efficiency again.
A frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Millsap would be tremendous for the Pistons, and SVG is a well-respected coach who would have a good chance of swaying him to re-sign this summer. The question is, would that return be enough for the Hawks?
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
SF – Shabazz Muhammad
The Atlanta Hawks need backcourt and wing help, and the Minnesota Timberwolves need some veteran leadership for the youngsters. This deal, unlikely as it might seem, accomplishes both.
The Hawks get a starting-caliber point guard in Ricky Rubio, who would likely come off the bench behind the blossoming Dennis Schroder. That would give them one of the best backup 1s in the NBA, while Shabazz Muhammad‘s scoring and youth would be a welcome addition to the second unit.
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Though the Wolves already have Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng in the frontcourt, Paul Millsap would set a terrific example for the youngsters and automatically make this team more of a threat to make the playoffs. Maybe not this season, but certainly next year if they could re-sign him.
Tom Thibodeau has never been one for patience, so although he wouldn’t be giving up much of the team’s young core to facilitate the deal, he’d be leaping right into more of a win-now move.
Unfortunately, there’d be definite drawbacks to a deal like this, the most noticeable of which is downgrading from Rubio at the point to Kris Dunn, an unprepared rookie who has largely failed to impress thus far.
Getting Millsap for Rubio and Muhammad is a tremendous deal in and of itself, but would Thibs and the prospect of a bright future be enough to keep Millsap in Minnesota for the extended future? And would the return of two backups be enough for Atlanta? It’s difficult to say.
4. Denver Nuggets
C – Jusuf Nurkic
At some point, the Denver Nuggets need to turn this team completely over to its youth. Moving guys like Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari and/or Wilson Chandler — who are basically interchangeable in this hypothetical deal — is step one in doing so.
There’s no rush, of course, since Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic are all currently starting, but the 4-spot could use some help and an experienced vet like Paul Millsap would be a welcome addition to this team’s emerging basketball culture.
If the Hawks would be willing to take on a workhorse like Faried and a center who’s been banished from Denver’s rotation like Jusuf Nurkic, the Nuggets shouldn’t think twice about pulling the trigger. There’s the inherent risk of him leaving for nothing in free agency, but can you imagine a Millsap-Jokic frontcourt for the foreseeable future if they did re-sign him?
Nuggets also chased Paul Millsap in FA before he signed original deal with Hawks. They tried to deal for him in offseason, accd to Lowe. ????????
— Nate Timmons (@MrNateTimmons) January 2, 2017
For the Hawks, they’d be getting an immediate Millsap replacement in Faried, but they’d also get a quality backup center — and possible successor — for the 31-year-old Dwight Howard in Nurkic. Don’t forget, the Bosnian Bear was putting up impressive numbers before Jokic reasserted himself as the team’s best center.
Faried’s deal expires after the 2018-19 season, which would allow Atlanta to continue treading this odd path between rebuilding and contending, while Nurkic doesn’t back down from anyone at only 22 years old.
The Hawks might prefer a wing like Gallo or Ill Will instead, and there are a lot of alternate possibilities. Will Barton could be dangled to free up minutes for Jamal Murray, or perhaps the Hawks would inquire about Murray instead of Nurkic.
In any case, the Nuggets have plenty of pieces that could facilitate a Millsap deal, which is why they should be considered one of the top contenders if they are in fact interested in him.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
PG – Cameron Payne
As currently constructed, the Oklahoma City Thunder are basically just the Russell Westbrook Show. As entertaining as it is, this team is not built for a playoff run past the second round. Putting Paul Millsap alongside Steven Adams in the frontcourt could very quickly change that.
While it obviously wouldn’t elevate them to title contender status as in the good old Kevin Durant days, it’d be a step in the right direction to reassure Westbrook this team is still committed to competing for championships.
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Russ loves Enes Kanter, but his defensive deficiencies may always limit him to a role of super sixth man. Luckily, it’s a role Kanter has thrived in recently, averaging 16.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game over his last seven contests.
With Kanter’s value on the rise, the Thunder should get him and the remaining $17.8 million of his contract (plus a possible $18.2 million player option for 2018-19) off the books while they can — especially if the return is a legitimate difference-maker in the starting lineup like Millsap.
No offense to the promising Domantas Sabonis, but he’s not a starting-caliber player for a playoff team yet. Millsap would be a huge upgrade on both ends of the floor, and though the Thunder wouldn’t be favored against Golden State or San Antonio, they could make life more difficult and establish a nucleus of Russ, Millsap, Adams and Oladipo to build upon.
For the Hawks, they’d be getting a super sixth man to play behind Dwight Howard, and even though he’s currently injured, Cameron Payne is a young, tantalizing backup point guard who would play behind Schroder once he returns.
Unfortunately, the Thunder are pretty much spent on available cap space since extending Adams and Oladipo a few months back, so even with Millsap’s Bird Rights, that’d be a tricky proposition. A return of Kanter and Payne also might not be enough for Atlanta, even if it addresses a couple of needs.
2. Boston Celtics
PG – Marcus Smart
Future 1st round pick
If anyone could make the Atlanta Hawks a Godfather offer, it’s the Boston Celtics. If they’re indeed interested, they should be the frontrunner in the Paul Millsap sweepstakes, since their collection of assets could trump any other trade package.
The question is, how interested is Danny Ainge in reuniting an Al Horford-Millsap frontcourt that has historically struggled with the Cleveland Cavaliers? Because as great as Millsap would be in Boston, the goal here is to make a deal that gets the Celtics over the LeBron James-shaped hump.
— Justin Rowan ???????? (@Cavsanada) January 2, 2017
With Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley playing the best basketball of their careers, not to mention Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart bolstering the defense, Ainge might be inclined to think the Hawks’ former frontcourt would fare better against the Cavs this time around.
If that’s the case, there are several potential avenues for the Celtics to explore.
SG – Avery Bradley
Future 1st round pick
To match salaries and provide the Hawks with a Millsap replacement at the 4, Amir Johnson would almost have to be included. Tyler Zeller‘s $8 million salary is close to Johnson’s $12 million contract, but he’s nowhere near as attractive to Atlanta as Amir.
From there, it could be a matter of choosing between Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart. IT is all but off limits in the middle of a career season, and the Hawks would probably prefer someone who could play the 2 like Bradley or Smart anyway.
Giving up either one would be a gut-punch for the Celtics, but a potentially necessary one…unless they were willing to give up one of their valuable future first round draft picks, like the rights to swap first round picks with the Brooklyn Nets this year.
That might be too much for Boston to give up, but it might spare them of surrendering Bradley or Smart, allowing them to replace that salary space with someone like Jonas Jerebko instead.
Unfortunately, there’s no trade scenario that Atlanta would agree to where Boston keeps all of Smart, Bradley, Crowder AND one of their valuable first-rounders. Amir, Kelly Olynyk and/or Jerebko isn’t getting the job done, unless a trade chip like Jaylen Brown were also in play.
PF – Jonas Jerebko
SF – Jaylen Brown
The Celtics have plenty of flexibility in putting together a deal, so it’d really be a matter of stringing together the right contracts and getting Atlanta to buy in — all without sacrificing too much of the team’s East-contending core. It’s a difficult line to straddle, but a core of Thomas, Bradley, Crowder, Millsap and Horford could absolutely push Cleveland in a seven-game series.
For the Hawks, they’d use Amir as a direct replacement for Horford and hope to add one of Bradley, Smart or perhaps even a top-five pick in this year’s draft (via Brooklyn). This one really depends on how much Ainge buys into Millsap being the difference-maker he’s been looking for, because if he does, he has the assets to pry him from Atlanta.
1. Toronto Raptors
SF – Terrence Ross
C – Jakob Poeltl
2017 first round pick
2017 first round pick (via LAC)
The Toronto Raptors are Cleveland’s biggest threat in the East, but since they’re still a tier below the Cavaliers, they need to make a game-changing move more than anyone in the East.
Trading for Paul Millsap doesn’t make them favorites over Cleveland, but it sure as hell would provide LeBron James with his greatest Eastern foe since the Indiana Pacers.
The Raptors don’t quite have the same plethora of assets available to trade like the Celtics, but there are a number of packages they could put together.
Is Paul Millsap the missing link in Toronto? https://t.co/zdVVcaAoJG
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 2, 2017
The best deal for Toronto — which allows them to keep Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell — would be centered around Patrick Patterson, Terrence Ross and rookie Jakob Poeltl. A lot of people like Poeltl, and T-Ross has done well off the bench, but that’s a pretty favorable package for Toronto.
More than likely, a deal like that would also require Toronto’s 2017 first-rounder and their other 2017 first-rounder from the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s a lot to give up for a 31-year-old, but that’s the price you pay to become a legitimate threat to Cleveland in the East.
SF – Terrence Ross
If that’s still not enough for the Hawks, the Raptors may opt for something like Valanciunas and Ross. JV is having a down year, but he’s a proven starter on a solid contract and could replace Dwight Howard down the road. Toronto may need to include one or both 2017 first rounders in this scenario.
If the Hawks asked for Valanciunas AND Norm Powell, that might be too much for We The North to stomach, since Powell has legitimate two-way potential and JV is their starting center.
There are other players who could facilitate a deal, like Jared Sullinger, Bruno Caboclo or even Cory Joseph if need be, but the Raptors could — and should — pursue any and every avenue in the coming weeks to pry Millsap from Atlanta. If they can do so without surrendering Valanciunas or Powell, more power to them…as a legitimate threat to the Cavs in the East.
- Al Horford
- Alex Len
- Andre Drummond
- Atlanta Hawks
- Avery Bradley
- Boston Celtics
- Brandon Knight
- Bruno Caboclo
- Buddy Hield
- Cameron Payne
- Charlotte Hornets
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Cody Zeller
- Cory Joseph
- Danilo Gallinari
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Dennis Schroder
- Denver Nuggets
- Derrick Favors
- Detroit Pistons
- Devin Booker
- Domantas Sabonis
- Dragan Bender
- Dwight Howard
- Emmanuel Mudiay
- Enes Kanter
- Eric Bledsoe
- Gary Harris
- George Hill
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Goran Dragic
- Gordon Hayward
- Gorgui Dieng
- Indiana Pacers
- Isaiah Thomas
- Jabari Parker
- Jae Crowder
- Jahlil Okafor
- Jakob Poeltl
- Jamal Murray
- Jared Sullinger
- Jaylen Brown
- Jeff Teague
- John Wall
- Jon Leuer
- Jonas Jerebko
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Jordan Clarkson
- Jusuf Nurkic
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Kelly Olynyk
- Kemba Walker
- Kenneth Faried
- Kent Bazemore
- Kevin Durant
- Kevin Love
- Khris Middleton
- Kris Dunn
- Kyle Korver
- LeBron James
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Lou Williams
- Lucas Nogueira
- Malcolm Delaney
- Marcus Morris
- Marcus Smart
- Marquese Chriss
- Miami Heat
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
- Mike Scott
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Nerlens Noel
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Nicolas Batum
- Nikola Jokic
- Norman Powell
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Patrick Patterson
- Paul Millsap
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Phoenix Suns
- PJ Tucker
- Ramon Sessions
- Reggie Jackson
- Rodney Hood
- Russell Westbrook
- Shabazz Muhammad
- Steven Adams
- T.J. Warren
- Taurean Prince
- Terrence Ross
- Thabo Sefolosha
- Tobias Harris
- Tony Allen
- Toronto Raptors
- Tyler Ulis
- Tyler Zeller
- Tyson Chandler
- Utah Jazz
- Washington Wizards
- Will Barton
- Wilson Chandler