The Atlanta Hawks have been interested in the possibility of acquiring restricted free agent Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons since the start of free agency. Monroe’s options have dried up which is fantastic news for Atlanta, but what would Atlanta lose in return for Monroe? The answer is Paul Millsap.
Hawks fans have grown very attached to Millsap since his addition last year in free agency. He is a solid player who always lays it out on the court, but his contract ends after this season and he will become an unrestricted free agent. Atlanta will most likely look to move him now because, like Monroe, he will be asking for a max-contract offer. If they will be looking for virtually the same amount, then why would the Hawks depart from the beloved Millsap?
One key factor is the significant age difference. Monroe is only 24 and has much to accomplish in the NBA, but Millsap will be 30 in February. Until this past year’s performance, Millsap was not considered a highly valuable asset. This is why the Hawks were able to snag him at such a low price of only $9.5 million over two years. Atlanta’s GM Danny Ferry would be wise to take advantage of his good fortune with Millsap and use him to acquire a high-quality player who probably wouldn’t have ever made his way to Atlanta without a trade.
Furthermore, Monroe is everything Millsap is not at the four spot. Monroe is 6-foot-11, which is the size of many centers around the league, but Millsap is measured at only 6-foot-8. The combination of Al Horford and Monroe would be a devastating wall down low for opposing offenses. Atlanta has been trying to solidify its defense, for that end of the floor has constantly caused coach Mike Budenholzer headaches. Monroe’s towering size and tenacious style of play will add an intimidation factor and zeal that the Hawks are currently lacking.
Additionally, Atlanta is one of the few remaining teams with cap space, but in order to complete a sign-and-trade deal, they would need to have a third team get involved. The only other team that would be able to assist is the Philadelphia 76ers, which have been rumored to be highly interested. The 76ers would be able to absorb some of the money that would need to be cleared for Atlanta to acquire Monroe.
The Hawks would most likely have to give up one other role player or a first or second-round draft pick. This may seem like too much to give up to some fans, but Monroe brings a lot to the table. Plus, Atlanta is stacked with youth and can afford to miss a draft pick. That’s especially the case if everything goes in the Hawks’ favor and they earn a high seed in the playoffs which would lend them a late first-round pick anyway.
If Atlanta is serious about being contenders now and separating themselves from the pretenders, then they will act now. The Hawks have been stagnant in the Eastern Conference for far too long.