It wouldn’t be trade season in earnest if trade market posturing season hadn’t begun yet, too.
Just days after dealing Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks are pulling All-Star forward and major trade chip Paul Millsap off of the trading block. This comes according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who says that Hawks GM Wes Wilcox began informing teams Monday that the Hawks are no longer trying to unload him.
Interestingly enough, Wojnarowski no longer listed the Toronto Raptors as one of multiple teams interested in dealing for Millsap. The Raptors have long been tied to Millsap, a seemingly natural fit at both ends of the floor, with a deal between the sides reportedly even getting close to (or reaching) the agreement stage this summer before Al Horford chose to head to Boston. Wojnarowski excluding the Raptors could mean their interest cooled in response to the Cavs growing even stronger – a complicated philosophical debate – because they were among the teams initially believed to be interested last week.
I broke down the logic behind a potential Millsap deal here and in the link above, and we discussed the idea in detail on last weeks’ Weekly Extra Podcast. On that podcast, Brad Rowland of Locked On Hoops and I came to a rough agreement on a package of Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger (for salary matching), Jakob Poeltl, and one of the team’s 2017 first-round picks. That’s a fair amount to give up for someone who doesn’t entirely close the gap with Cleveland and who could command upwards of $30 million annually as a 32-year-old free agent this summer, and that could be what gave the Raptors pause.
So, too, could have an even higher asking price, as the Hawks were rumored to want a “high” draft pick in any scenario. I still feel the same way as in those 3,500 words or so about adding Millsap, but without knowing the asking price, it’s hard for me to get too riled up about not pulling the trigger (and remember, while the Korver price was low, we found out after the fact that the asking price on a Serge Ibaka type was gargantuan). Reports last year suggested that the Hawks similarly floated Al Horford’s name to see if they could command a King’s ransom, but talks never got all that serious.
This could all be posturing, of course. Wojnarowski reports that the Hawks “are hedging,” having dealt Korver but maintaining enough talent to perhaps still push for a playoff seed. They would also retain Millsap’s Bird rights in that scenario. Trades are not always conducted in a “present asset value for future asset value” environment, and the Hawks have long been hesitant to appear a seller, fearing the ramifications in their market. They may very well be accepting a Korver-to-Lil’ Dun downgrade, pocketing a future pick, and moving forward.
Paul Millsap said his heart was in Atlanta and now happy no trade. Wants to finish the job.
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 9, 2017
Or this could be an attempt to drive the price up with six weeks to go until the trade deadline. Things can change quickly. And as always, if you’re hearing something, you’re hearing it for a reason. Real life exists in the shadows.