As the NBA continues its dramatic shift to small ball, having a versatile big man on the roster seems to be a requisite. Free agent Paul Millsap is one of them. It’s why, at least partially, it’s unofficially Paul Millsap free agency season.
He has seen his production diminish in the last few years, but he is still one of the more serviceable power forwards in the entire NBA. He is a four-time All-Star and a former All-Defensive Team member. Although he’s already past his peak, he will still be a welcome addition to any team with his skill set and versatility.
The Denver Nuggets have expressed their desire to re-sign Millsap, with president of basketball operations Tim Connelly even saying he wants to see him retire with the team. But the former Louisiana Tech standout recently said he believes he has three more years of earning power. So it’s highly possible that he might look to change zip codes if he can’t get an adequate deal in Mile High City this offseason. He has become more expendable as well with the surprise emergence of Jerami Grant in the NBA Playoffs.
If he does decide to leave, here are three best landing spots for the do-it-all Paul Millsap.
After their sorry exit in the NBA Playoffs, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was the first to admit they weren’t good enough. He added they have work to do. Well, looking for another big man might be the first on their agenda as Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, Grant Williams, and Semi Ojeleye don’t’ seem to be enough. None of them averaged double digits in scoring and more than seven rebounds this season. They only combined for 24.1 points and 18.7 boards per outing.
There have been rumors that the Celtics are trying to get DeMarcus Cousins, who sat out this season due to an ACL injury. But a more feasible lure for them might be Millsap, who is less mercurial and more of a silent worker. A known team player as well, Millsap could easily buy into the system in Beantown and wouldn’t mind playing a lesser role. He could even come off the bench to provide instant toughness and veteran smarts alongside the younger relievers.
But if given heavy minutes, Millsap can still definitely pour in solid numbers. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in just 24.3 minutes this season. Perhaps most importantly, he could be a positive locker room presence, aiding the development of young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
At 35 years old, it’s no secret that Paul Millsap is in the twilight of his career. But he’s played the perfect role for the Nuggets in their deep run in this year’s NBA Playoffs, providing interior defense, making timely shots, and serving as an extra facilitator with his high hoops IQ. Those are exactly the things he can bring to the table if he joins the upstart Nets.
Here’s a deep list of the power forwards on the Nets’ roster: Rodions Kurucs and Lance Thomas. That’s it. They don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing big men. Adding Millsap will surely shore up the squad’s no. 4 spot. He could serve as the Nets’ version of Draymond Green (not you, Spencer Dinwiddie) during the Golden State Warriors’ early title runs. It’s not hard to imagine Millsap slipping through a pick-and-roll with Kyrie Irving or setting a screen for Joe Harris or throwing a perfect alley-oop to Kevin Durant. Not to mention, he could be a good insurance defensively against guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, and Jayson Tatum in the Eastern Conference.
New Nets coach Steve Nash likes high character guys like himself, and Millsap is widely respected in the NBA as a class act. So they could be a match made in free agency.
If Paul Millsap wants to play an even lesser role, not worry about the pressures of carrying a team, and save his knees before he retires, South Beach could be another ideal destination. There are already rumors swirling around that the Heat could acquire Millsap if free agent power forward Jae Crowder decides to move on if he doesn’t get the long-term contract he wants.
Millsap could be a plug-and-play type for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. He can hit outside shots like Crowder and can battle bigger and stronger forwards. The Heat already have an established big man in Bam Adebayo and there are no illusions that Millsap will supplant him. But what he can do is be the perfect complimentary big man. He will be an upgrade from Kelly Olynyk, Derrick Jones, and Chris Silva, especially on defense. Again, Millsap has no history of attitude blowups or bickering with coaches, so he should be OK with not getting many touches. He’s a guy who could embrace the much-lauded Heat culture.
Paul Millsap is still looking for his first NBA title and his window is closing fast. Joining the Heat, who were just two games away from winning the trophy this season, could be an enticing pitstop. Also, the beautiful beaches and the vibrant nightlife in Miami don’t hurt.