The final starting piece fromthe best team in Atlanta Hawks franchise history is headed west.
Paul Millsap signed a three-year, $90 million contract with the Denver Nuggets late Sunday night, following a familiar path out of Atlanta that past teammates DeMarre Carroll and Al Horford used to sign lucrative free-agent deals with Toronto and Boston.
(The news was first reported by The Vertical and will not be made official until the NBA lifts its moratorium on July 6.)
The departure of Millsap, the loneholdover fromAtlanta's 60-win starting lineupin 2015, now leaves the Hawks' new front office in a possiblerebuilding mode with a depleted, young roster.
Atlanta held the financial ace up its sleeve in the Millsap sweepstakes. Owning the star forwards Bird Rights as hes bypassed the 10-year service mark in the league, the Hawks could have offered the five-year max contract worth approximately $200 million. No other franchise could offer more than four years and $149 million.
The writing was on the wall that new general manager and president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk did not want to outbid his own front office; although Schlenk and owner Tony Ressler called Millsap their "top priority" at the former'sintroductory press conference, there were also comments on flexibility and how another team could put a better offer on the table.
Millsap's departure also underscores the Hawks' decision to hold onto Millsap and Horford past their final trade deadlines only to watch its star frontcourt walk for nothing in free agency. The result: A 6-10 playoff record over the past two seasons with convincing series losses at the hands of the Cavaliers and Wizards, respectively, and fewer future assets.
What starters for 60-win Hawks got elsewhere:
Millsap: $90 mil
Korver: $22 mil
Teague: $57 mil
Horford: $113 mil
Carroll: $ 60 mil
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) July 3, 2017
Millsap molded himself into one of the league's top players under Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. The 32-year-old made four consecutive All-Star appearances while averaging 17.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his tenure in Atlanta. The former second-round pick of the Utah Jazzalso averaged more than a block and a steal per contest, cementing his reputation as a stat-stuffing post player capable of filling up box scores.
The Suns, Timberwolves and Kings also reportedly showed interest in Millsap as free agencyopened on July 1.
Millsap becomes the second major move made by Schlenk, following the trade of Dwight Howard to Charlotte in exchange for Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee and moving back 10 spots inlast month's draft. (The franchise has also let go of ancillary piecesby waiving Mike Dunleavy and trading Ryan Kelly.)
The Hawks now find themselves with an underwhelming roster, albeit one that is well below the salary cap floor of $89.184 million with only eight players under contract at the moment. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder, both of whom were extendedlast offseason, are currentlythe highest-paid players on the Hawks roster.