Paul Millsap hoping to stay in Denver as he regains steady presence in lineup
Paul Millsap had a rollercoaster first season with the Denver Nuggets, mostly flying under the radar after missing the vast majority of the season with a wrist injury. Yet his second season with the franchise has seen him enjoy better health and be part of the team he once envisioned upon joining them in the offseason of 2017.
Now he hopes to stay in Denver, as the team has a $30 million option awaiting him this summer.
Millsap’s averages of 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists pale in comparison to the 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists he averaged in his last season with the Atlanta Hawks, but his voice is now carrying more weight than his numbers at this point of his career.
“It’s just the tone he sets on both ends of the floor,” teammate Torrey Craig said, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. “A lot of times we kinda ride his wave. He is always saying stuff at halftime or in huddles where he says, ‘OK, it’s time to lock in, time to go on a run, time to make stops.’ He’s making us aware, and we definitely respond to it. Hopefully, we can continue to follow him (into the playoffs).”
Millsap’s game was largely built around dynamism, but franchise star Nikola Jokic has turned to be a chip off the old block, possessing that same niftiness, deft passing ability and nose for rebounds as the 34-year-old Louisiana native once did in his heyday.
“Last year, when you miss those 44 games, you come back and you’re trying to find a rhythm,” head coach Mike Malone said of Millsap. “People don’t realize it doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t simulate a game in a practice situation. A big part of Paul’s rise lately is, one, him being healthy.”
At this point of his career, the 34-year-old is just looking to be part of a larger purpose, one he has found with this group of his Nuggets teammates.
“It’s a winning culture that’s trying to be built around here,” Millsap said. “I just want to be a part of that.”