After signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks last week, well-traveled guard/forward Elijah Millsap is hopeful that he’s finally found an NBA home. Millsap has put up star numbers in the D-League and has shown serious scoring ability from Israel to the Philippines. Now, he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream by playing on the world’s biggest stage. Hoops Rumors caught up with the Hazan Sports Management client late last week to discuss his journey and what he hopes to bring to Milwaukee this season.
Zach Links: What do you feel like you can bring to an NBA team and, specifically, the Bucks?
Elijah Millsap: I think what I bring is maturity, I’ve been a professional for over four years so I’m not really a rookie, I’m a professional and I think that’ll be an asset for any NBA team. I’ve been around the system for a while and that’s one thing I can bring to a team. My versatility is also a major asset. I can play the 1, the 2, or the 3 and I can guard multiple positions.
ZL: What’s your best position?
EM: I don’t really have one, I can do it all. I’ve been working at the 2 and 3 this summer though.
ZL: How many other teams were you getting interest from before you signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks?
EM: I don’t deal with that stuff directly so I think I’ll let my agent answer that.
Daniel Hazan (agent): We were talking with numerous teams, even before the summer league got started and I think what was most appealing to us, was the idea of being a part of a young team and being able to add a maturity to that group of guys. I think the Bucks are a team that could benefit from Elijah, not just because of his ability to play D and get to the rim, but they can benefit from his leadership skills.
ZL: Is there another player currently in the NBA that you would compare your skillset to?
EM: Not really. There are a lot of guys that I look up to on the defensive end that have been in my situation though. Guys like P.J. Tucker, guys like Wesley Matthews. Tucker was a second round guy, Matthews went undrafted, and they were able to find a niche with their team. I continue to try and keep hope alive for myself and I want to do what they were able to do in the NBA.
ZL: You played some tremendous basketball for the Lakers’ D-League affiliate during your time there, how close were you to getting called up and do you know why you weren’t?
EM: I was very close but I dont’ know if you can really say how close I was. It’s always a numbers game and all I can do is do all I can and have fun playing basketball.
ZL: You’ve had stints in China, Israel, and the Philippines. How does the international game differ from basketball here?
EM: Overseas, I would have to compare it to more like a college environment. The crowd is a little more rowdy but it’s fun. I think the game is a lot more physical over there, they let their guys get away with a lot more than Americans. It’s a great experience and it’s fun to experience different cultures though.
ZL: Did it make you more of a physical player?
EM: I’ve always been a physical player but it made me a better all-around player because I wasn’t able to get in the lane as much as I do over here in the states. Because of that it forced me to work even harder on my jump shot and that made me a complete player offensively. I appreciate the experience I got [overseas].
ZL: Did you eat the local food when you were playing overseas? Is there one dish you crave from time to time that you wish you could get in the states?
EM: In Israel they made really, really good home fries, actually. In the Philippines the way they cook their food is a lot different that what I was used to but it was all really good food out there.
ZL: There are a ton of agents out there to choose from. What made Hazan Sports Management the right agency for you?
EM: Daniel and Andrew [Hoenig] and all of them, they’re hard workers. They’re young and they’re ready to work. Going with these guys, I knew I was going to get specific attention from them. They’ve been to all of my summer league games and that’s what I was really looking for, somebody that would give me the attention that I needed. I work hard every day and so do they.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.