The Atlanta Hawks may be a couple million dollars away from handing the Boston Celtics an NBA Championship in 2018. Paul Millsap expressed to the media that he will opt-out of his current deal this summer and hit the free agent market. In doing so, he has put his name up there with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul as top targets. However, a reunion with Al Horford may be his best option.
Not to take anything way from the Hawks but they have yet to find that balance between team and individual success. Millsap is 32 years old and his time as an elite score is winding down. His 2016-17 averages of 18 points and 8 rebounds were great but the team still struggled to finishes with 43 wins in a weak Eastern Conference.
His frontcourt pairing with Dwight Howard did not go as planned as both players never seemed to be on the same page as far as post position goes. Now the Hawks will have to make a decision here. Do they pay Millsap $21M or let him walk? That’s a steep price for a team that must look to add perimeter help on the wings. Millsap has improved on his 15-20ft range which allowed Howard a little room to work but how long before Howard starts demanding more responsibility on the offensive end?
If Boston were to make a pitch this could set them up for one heck of a run next season. Millsap and Horford work well together and the Celtics have the necessary perimeter threats the Hawks lacked. Money may be an issue for this deal but this is Danny Ainge we’re talking about. With Amir Johnson’s contract set to come off the books this offseason, it will leave a little wiggle room for Ainge to make a pitch.
The Celtics are in need of a viable post player. While many have Griffin as top choice, his injury history, and top salary demand may be the deal breaker. Millsap could take a considerable pay cut if winning is what matters to him. In Boston, he would have his best shot, maybe of his career to finally get that elusive ring.
Griffin, while explosive, is more suited for a up-tempo team and the Celtics are more halfcourt. This offense suits Millsap’s talents perfect. He can provide the necessary spacing for Horford to work and will allow players like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley to become top-level defenders. The Celtics need this deal to happen. The rest of the East should be worried if Millsap has the Celtics on his list of destinations.