In my last post, I discussed how I believe Monta Ellis will sign with the Atlanta Hawks in free agency this summer. I also addressed how since power forward Josh Smith is most likely on his way out, the Hawks will have a gap to fill at the four spot as well. Since Atlanta will have a ton of flexibility this offseason (about $42 mil in cap space), they will possess the ability to acquire at least two big free agents. The organization, in my opinion, will spend $10 mil to obtain Ellis and cover their two-guard necessity. But what about their soon-to-be vacant power forward position?
Well, the perfect solution will be available for probably the same price as Monta: Paul Millsap.
This season, the Utah Jazz were led by both Millsap and center Al Jefferson. However, Jefferson was the player who turned out to be the team's most valuable, leading the squad in points (17.8) and rebounds (9.2). While Millsap finished second in points (14.6) and tied for second in rebounds (7.1), his averages were down almost two from what they were in the 11-12 season. With both Jefferson and Millsap coming off the books this summer, the Jazz have a decision to make in regards to which big they resign. It seems clear to me Utah will lean toward Al Jefferson, especially since they currently boast Derrick Favors, the young up-and-coming power forward who tied with Millsap in rebounds per game and posted 9.4 points per game off the bench. As a result, the 6'8 forward will be available for anyone who is in need of a four-man.
Now, why would the Hawks pay for this power forward in particular?
In his seven year tenure with the Jazz, Paul Millsap has proven he is a quality starter who will consistently provide scoring and rebounding. While his career averages are just 12.4 ppg and 7.0 rpg, his numbers over the past three seasons have been exceptional (16.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg). Millsap is tough, he is aggressive, and he provides 100% effort every single time he steps on the court. He possesses a strong work ethic, and his desire to constantly work and improve his game is the main reason behind why he has experienced so much success in the NBA up to this point. During his time in the league, Millsap has expanded his offensive game from beyond just inside the paint, as he has developed a nice mid-range shot. He can even knock down the three-ball from time to time. Defensively, he may be undersized compared to other forwards, but he makes up for this with the constant energy and intensity he puts forth every defensive possession. Overall, Millsap is a hard-working player who would bring Atlanta continual effort, toughness, and productivity.
The Hawks would be smart to focus their efforts on obtaining both Paul Millsap and Monta Ellis this summer. Millsap is the perfect candidate to replace Josh Smith, as he would compliment Al Horford well and bring consistency every single game. He also can be signed for between $10-$12 mil, so Atlanta would still have enough cap space to fill their other needs.
I like the idea of both Monta Ellis and Paul Millsap in Atlanta. A speedy backcourt with Jeff Teague and Ellis mixed with a tough frontcourt consisting of Paul Millsap and Al Horford has the potential to cause some damage in the East. Who knows, maybe this lineup would help the Hawks actually advance past the first round of the playoffs.