Earlier this week, initial reports suggested the Atlanta Hawks were letting forward Paul Millsap sign with the Denver Nuggets without getting anything in return – a decision that left fans peeved.
Now, we know those reports were a little premature.
It turns out the Hawks were working on a three-team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers, and they’ll receive a few pieces in return for the All-Star. According to AJC.com, Millsap will still sign with the Nuggets for 3 years and $90 million, and Atlanta will get former Hawk Jamal Crawford and youngster Diamond Stone from the Clippers, as well as their 2018 first-round pick and cash.
According to a separate AJC.com report, Millsap said the Hawks never presented him with an offer. He wasn’t surprised by new general manager Travis Schlenk’s decision to not extend an offer, but Millsap was sure to say a few kind words about the city and Hawks fans on his way out – a rarity for departing players in recent years.
“Definitely a great four-year run,” Millsap told AJC.com. “They helped me. The city of Atlanta has been unbelievable to me. I know that they are probably a little disappointed but I appreciated all the love that they showed to me. Atlanta is still going to be my summer place. My family is still going to be there. They’ve been great. You hear a lot of talk before I got there, the fans this, the fans that. Actually being in it, they are dedicated and loyal fans. They’ve always had my back from day one. I’m very appreciative for that.”
Crawford, a shooting guard, played for the Hawks from 2009 to 2011 but has said he’s not all too thrilled about returning to Atlanta, AJC.com also reported. Perhaps the 37-year-old who’s nearing the end of his career doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project; the Hawks have the option to trade him or buy out his contract if they’d like.
Stone is just 20 years old and is still finding his game in the NBA’s Developmental League (now known as the Gatorade League). He didn’t play much for the Clippers last season, averaging just over 3 minutes in 11 games. But Stone is cheap, and the Hawks have very little to lose by acquiring him.
In the long run, the most important piece Atlanta received in this trade is the first-round pick. Schlenk seems hellbent on rebuilding this franchise through the draft, and as we’ve seen in recent years with the Boston Celtics, the best way to guarantee success is to stockpile picks and hope to land some generational talent. Schlenk was able to successfully do that in his last job as GM of the Golden State Warriors, and we’ll see if he’s able to follow it up with another successful rebuild of the Hawks in the coming years.Follow @Sean_Breslin