The forgotten suitor in July's Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Hawks didn't have a splashy offseason, but the team re-signed a couple of its own key contributors in Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, and brought in players such as Paul Millsap and Elton Brand to replace outgoing free agents like Josh Smith. As the retooled Hawks look to return to the postseason for the seventh straight year, let's check in on a few items out of Atlanta….
- Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld spoke to Teague, GM Danny Ferry, coach Mike Budenholzer, and Millsap himself about the Hawks' signing of the former Utah big man. Millsap is optimistic about the club's new pieces fitting together, as he tells Kennedy: "Because we have smart and intelligent guys, hopefully it won’t take that long [for the group to jell]. We’ve already been going through some things and we’re getting a feel for what we’re going to do. It’s been working out."
- The Hawks and first-round pick Lucas Nogueira have filed the paperwork to remove Nogueira's cap hold from their books, reports Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com (via Twitter). As Deeks notes in a second tweet, that means Atlanta can't sign their 2013 first-rounder until next July, and it creates a little more cap flexibility for the team.
- Lang Greene of HoopsWorld takes a look at Dennis Schroder, the Hawks' other first-round pick this past June, who projects to be a long-term piece in the club's backcourt.
Here are some odds and ends from around the NBA on Tuesday night:
- The Hawks' offseason represents a step forward for the organization, writes Zach Harper of CBS Sports in his detailed offseason review of Atlanta. Harper condemns the former regime's running-in-place approach, and says the Hawks had a solid draft and made the right decision to replace Josh Smith with the much cheaper Paul Millsap. While he expects Atlanta to again end up in that familiar middle-of-the-playoff-pack area, Harper writes that the flexibility and roster construction created by Danny Ferry should give it a different feel.
- Avery Bradley has focused on getting bigger and stronger this offseason in an attempt to stay healthy, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston. Bradley says that, due to injuries and the lockout, this offseason has easily been the most productive of his career as a professional. He will certainly have an opportunity to shine on the new-look Celtics' roster.
- While success and roster continuity are typically linked in the NBA, the Bobcats are this year's exception, writes John Schuhmann of NBA.com. Charlotte will bring back 11 players that accounted for over 85 percent of the team's total minutes played last year, which is the third highest percentage in the NBA this offseason, The Bobcats have only added Cody Zeller, Anthony Tolliver and Al Jefferson at this point. It is not surprising that first, second and fourth teams on that list are the Heat, Thunder and Spurs, respectively.
- In an Insider-only piece, David Thorpe of ESPN points out the burning questions facing each of the teams in the Southeast division this season, adding that the division is stocked with youth and talent as well as, of course, the two-time defending champs.
- With Adam Silver set to take over the commissioner's office in February, Jabari Davis of HoopsWorld provides a retrospective look at David Stern's 30 year reign as the NBA's front man.
JULY 10TH: The Hawks have officially signed Millsap, the team announced today in a press release.
JULY 5TH: The Hawks have agreed to a deal with power forward Paul Millsap, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It's a two-year deal, Vivlamore adds via Twitter. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld first reported the two sides were in serious discussions. The pact will total $19MM, according to Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).
Millsap, a client of agent DeAngelo Simmons, gets a slight bump from his $8.6MM salary this past season, and presumably will be playing power forward next to Al Horford in Atlanta. Horford is one of just three returning Hawks players who entered the summer with guaranteed contracts, though Atlanta re-signed Kyle Korver earlier this week. The Hawks, armed with plenty of cap space, figure to be active now that Dwight Howard is heading to Houston instead of his hometown, and the team has already been linked to a possible sign-and-trade involving Josh Smith and Omer Asik.
The Jazz renounced their rights to Millsap earlier today after absorbing the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush. That rendered Utah unable to make a competitive bid to retain Millsap, since the Jazz are up against the cap.
The Hawks and Paul Millsap are engaged in a serious dialogue about a deal, according to HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy (Twitter link). The Jazz renounced their rights to Millsap earlier today, limiting Utah to re-signing him for no more than their $2.65MM room exception. Conversely, the Hawks have plenty of cap room to sign the power forward to a much larger deal.
There's been little chatter about Millsap in the free agency period, though the Celtics were reportedly interested in him at the trade deadline and again this spring, before they went into rebuilding. The DeAngelo Simmons client saw declines in his scoring and rebounding averages this past season, but at age 28, Millsap remains in the upper echelon of NBA power forwards, far outpacing expectations when he was a second-round pick in 2006. Millsap made $8.6MM in 2012/13, the last year of a four-year, $32MM pact.
The Hawks have an agreement with Kyle Korver on a four-year, $24MM deal, but they have only three other players from last season on fully guaranteed deals. They're reportedly linked to the Rockets in what could be a sign-and-trade deal involving Josh Smith and Omer Asik, and given their cap space, they could become even more active now that it's assured they won't be signing Dwight Howard.
The Warriors and the Jazz have been at the center of a pair of major deals this afternoon, including agreeing to a trade that will send a handful of draft picks and about $24MM in salaries to Utah. However, as a result of that trade and Golden State's subsequent agreement with Andre Iguodala, two major free agents will almost certainly no longer re-sign with their respective teams.
According to TNT's David Aldridge (via Twitter), the Jazz will need to renounce their Bird rights to Paul Millsap in order to clear the necessary cap room to absorb all the incoming salary. That means that the Jazz could no longer offer Millsap more than the $2.65MM room exception to re-sign in Utah.
Meanwhile, the Warriors find themselves in a similar boat with Jarrett Jack. To create space for Iguodala's salary, Golden State will renounce its Bird rights to Jack, as Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group tweets. Like Millsap, Jack now won't be eligible for more than the $2.65MM room exception if he hopes to re-sign with his former team.
Although it's still technically possible for both players to re-sign with their respective clubs, the odds are strongly in favor of both free agents finding new homes within the next few days or weeks.
With the exception of the defending division champs from Oklahoma City, we've got a little something this morning on every Northwest team, so let's dive in and round up the latest….
A few notes from around the Northwest Division:
A couple weeks ago, ESPN.com's Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that international draft prospects Dennis Schroeder and Giannis Antetokounmpo had each received first-round guarantees from unknown teams. According to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net (Twitter link), it may be the Celtics that have made a promise to Schroeder at No. 16. There has also been some chatter linking Schroeder to the Jazz (No. 14) and Bucks (No. 15), so the German guard may not even last until 16th overall, but if he does, it appears the Celtics are interested.
Here's more out of Boston:
- Mike Saver of CelticsLife.com passes along a few comments of note made by longtime Boston writer Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com on CSNNE. According to MacMullan, Kevin Garnett plans to come back for at least one more year, and MacMullan believes KG would play whether or not Paul Pierce remains a Celtic.
- MacMullan also reports that the Celtics covet Paul Millsap, and that if there's a "Plan A" for the team, getting Millsap would be it. Given Boston's cap situation, the C's would likely have to sign-and-trade for the free agent big man, unless they could clear cap room by trading or waiving Pierce and making an additional move or two.
- While most signs continue to point to Doc Rivers remaining the Celtics head coach going forward, some people "who have basketball business with the club" are concerned that Rivers has yet to publicly state his intentions, writes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Within his latest piece for the Herald, Bulpett delves into the relationship between Rivers and GM Danny Ainge.
Many believe there's virtually no chance the Jazz will re-sign both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap this summer, and Millsap admits the uncertainty of impending free agency crept into his mind during the season, as Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News writes. "That’s me being honest," Millsap said. "It’s a tough thing to try to put it in the back of your head and not think about it. For the most part, I felt like we did a good job of handling it and the coaches did too." Free agents in the playoffs face even more pressure as they chase a title and their next contract at the same time, and as we watch to see who can take that kind of heat, here's the latest from around the Association:
- Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks expressed his support for Vinny Del Negro to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, in response to rumors that the team may not retain the coach. Del Negro is in the final year of his contract, and though he and the Clippers have spoken about an extension, both sides have tabled those talks until after the season.
- Mike Dunleavy Sr. wants to coach again, and he's told agent Warren LeGarie to investigate the opportunities, reports Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. Dunleavy said he'd limit his search to teams that have the "resources" available to win.
- Rival executives have suggested to Chris Mannix of SI.com that Grant Hill could be a fit for the general manager opening in Phoenix. Hill is likely to retire at the end of the season, and he's a favorite of Suns owner Robert Sarver, who employed him as a player for five seasons. Lon Babby, the team's president of basketball operations, is a former agent who used to represent Hill (Twitter link).
- SB Nation's Tom Ziller ponders what might have been if James Harden were still with the Thunder, pointing to numbers that suggest they'd be among the greatest offensive teams of all time.
- Former Illinois shooting guard Brandon Paul has chosen agent Jim Tanner of Williams & Connolly, tweets Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. Paul checks in 57th with Jonathan Givony's ratings for DraftExpress, but Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him 96th.