On Sunday, Marc Stein of ESPN kicked off the New Year with the perfect tweet to get NBA fans excited about the prospects of 2017:
Story posting soon with @WindhorstESPN: ESPN sources say the Hawks have begun listening to trade offers for free agent-to-be Paul Millsap
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 1, 2017
That makes a lot of sense considering the following:
Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap to opt out at end of season to become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 1, 2017
About this time a year ago, the Atlanta Hawks entertained offers for Al Horford, a career Hawk who was also facing free agency in just a few months’ time. While it wasn’t certain that he’d leave, there certainly was strong sentiment that Horford wouldn’t be returning to Atlanta, but that didn’t stop the Hawks from keeping him. Ultimately, they let him walk away for nothing more than cap space, using that financial flexibility to re-sign Kent Bazemore and bring in Dwight Howard.
They could do the same with Millsap. There are some who believe the Hawks may ultimately hold onto their star and see where the future takes them. Considering his 32-point outburst just hours after the Stein tweet, there is absolutely zero ambiguity about what he brings to a team. Yes, he’s knocking on the door of 32 years old, which for many players equates to the back end of the prime of their career. But he’s a perfect four in today’s NBA, and his combination of quiet toughness and shooting range make him the sort of weapon that could push a number of teams into a higher competitive tier.
In other words, who wouldn’t want Paul Millsap on their team?
The more appropriate question is which teams have the capability to make an enticing offer to Atlanta? Negotiations could be challenging along those lines since several teams may be reticent to offer what Millsap, in a vacuum, is actually worth, but the whole reason Atlanta is considering trading him in the first place is because he’ll be a free agent at the season’s end. If the Hawks can truly appreciate the reality of losing him for zilch in terms of assets, they may be a little more realistic in fielding offers.
Whatever the case, here are a handful of teams that could make a run at Millsap, as well as some of the assets they may be willing to give up in order to get him on their roster:
Over the course of the last couple years, the Toronto Raptors have established themselves as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. With DeMar DeRozan taking yet another step forward this year, it’s time to start wondering just how close they are to competing seriously with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs this spring. The reality is that they’re still a player away, and power forward is where they have the biggest gap. Rookie Pascal Siakam has been respectable, and Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger are serviceable, but Millsap dominates on both ends like neither of those guys can. Plus, imagine the pick-and-roll sets the Raptors could run with Millsap doing the picking and rolling. It would be nasty.
Plus, assuming the team extends Kyle Lowry this offseason, the team will be over the cap, which means signing any other significant free agents won’t be possible. Trading for Millsap now gives Toronto his Bird rights, which would mean they could exceed the cap to keep him as part of this team’s core long enough to make the most of his prime, as well as DeRozan’s and Lowry’s. It would be expensive, but it’s the best way for this team to compete seriously for a championship.
Either Patterson or Sullinger probably would head back to Atlanta in the deal, as would either Terrence Ross, Norman Powell or possibly even both. Other guys could also move to make the money work out, and Toronto also could send Atlanta the Clippers’ top-14 protected first-rounder this summer. That’s not cheap, especially if it costs Powell and a pick, but Millsap would be worth it.
Portland Trail Blazers
There might not be a team that needs Millsap more than the Blazers do. They really have struggled to find an identity this season and just haven’t made the strides we thought they would coming off of last year’s successes. Millsap, with all his veteran toughness and know-how, would completely change the game for them on both ends of the floor.
Portland, meanwhile, has no shortage of assets, though it’s tough nailing down which combination of them would be enough to bring Millsap to the Trail Blazers. Starting with Mason Plumlee makes a fair amount of sense considering he too is an expiring deal and helps keep Atlanta respectable in the frontcourt once Millsap is gone. The real talent, though, would come in the form of guys like Allen Crabbe, Mo Harkless and Noah Vonleh. All told, Portland could give up some combination of two or three of those players plus a pick or two to bring in Millsap and it really wouldn’t be all that bad a haul for Atlanta.
Granted, in taking back Crabbe they’d be committing quite a bit of money to him over the course of the next few years, but the team is thin at shooting guard and it’s not like those are going to get any less expensive once 2017 free agency hits. He, along with Plumlee, Vonleh and a first-rounder, could get it done.
Ever since Denver figured out how to work their offense around Nikola Jokic, they’ve been one of the more entertaining teams in the league to watch. Adding Millsap would give them the franchise centerpiece they’ve been craving and they have more than enough assets in place to get something done with Atlanta. We know it’s possible because these two teams already have gone deep on negotiations for Millsap in the past. Picking things back up probably wouldn’t be all that challenging.
It obviously starts with Kenneth Faried, as it apparently did back in July when teams last had substantial negotiations for Millsap. His salary would take care of most of the cap side of things, meaning adding a pick or two to the mix would make a deal incredibly easy. What the Hawks really need, though, is shooting guard depth. Denver would likely consider including Will Barton in a deal with Atlanta. The Nuggets also have veteran forwards such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.
Either way, we know Denver still wants Millsap. It’s just a matter of determining what they’re willing to give up for him.
Even though Millsap is almost 32 years old, he’s a perennially underrated player who would completely turn the tides for any team that acquired him. None of these potential offers are going to send star quality back to Atlanta, but if sentiment around the league is that he’s going to bolt this summer no matter what, the Hawks really should consider bringing back some sort of assets package to avoid losing yet another great power forward for absolutely nothing.
The Horford thing has to sting, which is why the Atlanta front office is almost certain to push for maximum value in return. But considering the situation, max return may just have to be a couple of young players and a middling first-round draft pick. Even that is a million times better than what they got the last time they lost this game of chicken.
NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine
Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.
UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.
While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.
Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.
“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”
Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.
Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.
“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.
I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”
Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.
“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.
Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.
“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.
Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.
Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.
“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”
NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18
The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.
Lots of Draft Movement
With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.
The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.
It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.
Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:Dates To Know:
The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.
The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.
The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.
The Pick Swaps:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.
The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.
The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.
The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/
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NBA Daily: Shamet Comfortable With Steady Self Going Into Draft
With a natural feel for the game, Wichita State guard Landry Shamet has more than enough of a chance to carve his own path of success in the NBA.
No matter what professional field a person wants to work in, there are multiple ways to show why they belong.
A positive attitude is everything, confidence goes a long way and honesty truly is the best policy.
Speaking with Wichita State product Landry Shamet this past week at the NBA Combine in Chicago, it’s clear that he has all three of those boxes checked off.
“It’s been great,” Shamet said of the event. “Just trying to absorb everything, soak everything up. It’s a big learning experience for sure. A lot of knowledge to be attained (at the Combine). With interviews and playing on the court, being coached by NBA guys, it’s been cool so far.”
During his three years with the Shockers, the 6-foot-4, 188-pound guard accomplished quite a few feats, but his junior season was arguably the most spectacular. Not only did Shamet lead his team in multiple ways, but he also topped out in four statistical categories in the American Athletic Conference—the school’s first year there after moving on from the Missouri Valley.
Shamet’s 166 assists (5.2 per game average) were the most in the AAC by far. In addition, his true shooting percentage (65.5) and three-point percentage (44.2) ranked number one among his peers.
From entering the program in 2015 to now, he feels that he’s grown dramatically as a player—but in what areas, specifically?
“I would say being a point guard honestly,” Shamet said. “I was recruited in as a two. But just kinda that leadership role, that accountability. Knowing that you’re gonna get a lot of scrutiny (after) a loss and you’re gonna be responsible for a win. Regardless of how the game goes, it’s your responsibility.”
Much of his development at Wichita State was courtesy of a hands-on approach with Gregg Marshall, one of the most revered head coaches in college basketball. Thanks to his guidance, Shamet feels ready, even in aspects outside of his offensive ability.
“On the defensive end, I feel comfortable with my positioning,” Shamet said. “Obviously, need to get better. You can always get better on the defensive end. That’s one thing I’ve been focusing on. Trying to get more athletic. Just be better defensively. He gave me the groundwork for sure. 100 percent.”
Shamet has kept in touch with Marshall throughout the entire pre-draft process. He was told to “smile and relax” in interviews and to be confident, which he’s certainly followed through with.
A similar message has come from Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, two former Shockers who have each made their mark at the professional level.
“Just be yourself, you know,” Shamet said of VanVleet’s pointers. “That’s really what it boils down to I think. He’s been great to have him in my corner—a guy like that who’s been through a lot of adversity on his way to the NBA, so I’m gonna listen to him 10 times out of 10.”
VanVleet’s career is already taking off with the Toronto Raptors as a part of their young and hungry bench. But with four more inches of height and a similar feel for the game, Shamet has more than enough of a chance to carve his own path of success in the NBA.
And it won’t require flash or making a daily highlight-reel to do so.
“I’d like to just say versatile,” Shamet said of his game. “Just try to stay solid. I don’t ever try to make spectacular plays all the time. Try to just do what I feel I can do—play multiple positions, both positions, on or off the ball. I’m comfortable at either spot, honestly. Whether it’s facilitating, scoring, whatever the case may be.
“I feel like I have a high IQ as well. Just a cerebral player. Not gonna ‘wow’ you with crossing people up and doing things that a lot of the guys in the limelight do all the time. But I feel like I’m a solid player. Pretty steady across the board.”
However, just because he rarely shows off on the court doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to do it.
“I feel like I’m a little more athletic than I might get credit for,” Shamet said. “I think I’m a better athlete than I get credit for.”
Shamet is projected to go anywhere from the middle-to-late first round of the draft in June. Whoever lands the Kansas City native will be getting a tireless worker who does things the right way and is all about the team.
But for now, he’s soaking in everything he possibly can before that night comes.
“I don’t have all the answers,” Shamet candidly said. “I’m a 21-year-old kid, man I guess. So just trying to learn as much as I can, gain some knowledge, get good feedback—because at the end of the day, I’m not a perfect player. I know that.”