Atlanta Hawks: Paul Millsap Should Help Create Space

By A.J. Speier
Paul Millsap
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing out in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes earlier on Friday, the Atlanta Hawks were still able to find a front court player to complement their superstar Al Horford.

The Hawks reached an agreement with free agent power forward Paul Millsap on a two-year contract worth $19 million. It’s a raise from his previous contract with Utah Jazz, which was a four-year, $32 million deal.

Following the Jazz’s trade with the Golden State Warriors earlier in the day, Millsap knew his future was going to be with another team. The Jazz took in $24 million from their acquisition of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush, leaving the ability to spend no more than a $2.65 million room exception.

Millsap saw a decline in his production this past season with an average of 14.6 points and seven rebounds per game, but at age 28, Millsap is entering his prime and was considered to be one of the top power forwards available on the market.

As an underrated big man, the Hawks are getting a player who can knock down mid-range jumpers. He made 42.4 percent of his shots from 16-24 feet during the regular season and will be able to help create space shooters.

Heading into free agency, it was speculated that the Hawks would be switching Horford to power forward, but the signing of Millsap will likely keep him at center. However, there are rumors that the Houston Rockets are considering a sign-and-trade deal for Hawks’ free agent Josh Smith and center Omer Asik could potentially end up as a Hawk.

If the Hawks do indeed land Asik, Millsap would likely see his role reduced to a sixth man, but it would give the Hawks more flexibility depending on their matchup. Asik would help the Hawks against a team like the Indiana Pacers, while Millsap’s athleticism would create problems for a team like the Miami Heat.

In addition to Millsap, the Hawks also agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with forward DeMarre Carroll, who was Millsap’s teammate in Utah. Carroll averaged six points and 2.8 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game last season.

Millsap and Carroll will join a roster that feature three players currently guaranteed under contract in Horford, Lou Williams and last year’s first-round pick, John Jenkins. The Hawks also reached an agreement with Kyle Korver on a four-year $24 million deal and extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jeff Teague earlier this week.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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