The Hawks have informed Paul Millsap that he won’t be dealt before February’s trade deadline, Millsap himself tells Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The news comes on the heels of a Monday report that Atlanta had started telling teams Millsap wasn’t available.
“Now everybody can stop talking about it,” Millsap said on Tuesday. “I can stop thinking about it and just focus on basketball.”
Last week, Millsap expressed a desire to remain in Atlanta with the Hawks, and that’s a stance he reiterated today, according to Youngmisuk. Although the veteran big man can opt out of his contract at season’s end, and there’s no guarantee he’ll remain a Hawk for the next several years, Millsap says he had hoped to stick with the team this season.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Millsap said. “For me and my team, for us to really do something, I think that all the rumors (have) got to stop. I think we are at a good place right now during the season and our main focus is basketball and winning and winning big.”
While it’s one thing for the Hawks to tell potential suitors that Millsap isn’t available, it’s another for the team to tell the player himself that he won’t be moved before next month’s deadline. Even after brushing off teams’ trade offers for Millsap, the Hawks could have revisited those discussions sometime in the next few weeks, perhaps leveraging their reluctance to deal their All-Star into a more appealing trade package. Telling Millsap that a trade won’t happen is a stronger signal that he’s not going anywhere.
The Hawks have a 21-16 record, good for first in the Southeast division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Still, the club just traded away former All-Star sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and isn’t viewed as a significant threat to make a deep postseason run. That makes Atlanta’s about-face on Millsap a little surprising, particularly since the club has some recent experience with losing a big-name free agent, having seen Al Horford walk in July. The Hawks’ decision may suggest that the team is more confident about retaining Millsap beyond this season.