The fate of Paul Millsap will be one of the more interesting storylines to follow during NBA free agency. The All-Star forward has a very intriguing skill set that should be in demand around the league. He is a very skilled offensive player who can stretch out to the three-point line. And apart from that, he’s also an above-average defender at the four.
However, he’s now 32 years old and is looking to get paid this offseason, so interested teams will be wary of giving him a huge deal which will almost definitely look very bad at the back-end.
Let’s take a look at all the different teams Millsap can realistically end up going to, his fit on those teams, and the actual likelihood of him landing there.
The incumbent – Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks, under the management of new GM Travis Schlenk, will likely still offer Millsap a contract that would allow him to stay in Atlanta. However, they probably won’t be keen to hand Millsap anything close to his max contract, which is five years for around $200 million.
The Hawks picked up a talented power forward in John Collins during the draft, which they likely made with Millsap’s potential departure in mind. Maybe Millsap is fine with the Hawks’ offer and re-signs even if it’s not the max. But the chances of that happening are slim and he probably moves on this summer.
The gravy train – Sacramento Kings
The Kings will have the most cap space in the league to work with this offseason. And while they are ostensibly in rebuilding mode—which is looking good so far, by the way—their front office is reportedly looking for a high-profile veteran who can show their young players the ropes and help them remain respectable next season. Millsap fits the bill, and he's probably one of the few very good free agents who might actually sign there.
Millsap’s main goal this summer is to get paid and if the Kings are out there with the highest bid, he’ll likely take it. But if there’s another team that can offer the max or close to it and will likely be more competitive than the Kings, then Millsap probably goes that direction instead of Sacramento.
The up-and-comers – Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves
Either Denver or Minnesota would be an ideal landing spot for Millsap. Both teams are trending upwards, and have their sights set on the playoffs. They are also both missing that versatile power forward who could space the floor and defend. They do have the means to get that player, though, and Millsap would be a perfect addition for either team.
The Nuggets still have other options at power forward (i.e. re-signing Danilo Gallinari, promoting Juancho Hernangomez), but Millsap would be a sizable upgrade over either of those mainly because of his defense. Denver doesn’t figure to be a very good defensive team, but Millsap’s addition would certainly help lessen their awfulness.
Meanwhile, Minnesota just desperately needs someone who can space the floor better at the four now that Jimmy Butler is in the fold. They’re already exploring trades for Ricky Rubio in search for some shooting upgrade, but getting Millsap would arguably be a lot more impactful because of his offensive and defensive versatility.
If you had to choose where Millsap ends up between the two, Denver gets the slight edge just because power forward is their biggest priority and they will likely go hard for him, while Minnesota could still focus more on getting a point guard if they move on from Rubio.
The title contenders – San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are reportedly in the market for stars this offseason. To make a Millsap move happen, San Antonio would need to get creative and shed a good deal of salary. However, it remains unclear just how big a priority Millsap would be for the Spurs. You’d have to think a team as smart as San Antonio would be pretty hesitant to lock themselves up to a big contract for a 32-year-old.
All things considered, the Nuggets and Timberwolves look like the most realistic destinations for Millsap. They could all use an upgrade at the four, and he would provide exactly that.
However, the Nuggets have the most pressing need for a power forward among the two, and they also have the simplest path toward acquiring him since they can offer him the max without making other moves aside from renouncing Danilo Gallinari’s cap hold.
Millsap could very easily end up in Minnesota, but Denver just looks like the most logical landing spot for him this summer.