By now, you’ve probably already seen the ESPN report suggesting the Hawks have considered moving their All-Star starter by the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Millsap has been a great signing for Atlanta since he came over in 2013, but with his opt-out looming this summer, the Hawks absolutely should look into a trade that would give them some return for the versatile forward. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the teams that should seriously look into acquiring Millsap.
Needs Millsap Most: Raptors
The Raptors were mentioned by ESPN as one team that's already inquired about acquiring Millsap. Toronto makes too much sense as a landing spot for the talented, three-point shooting big who can also anchor a defense. Millsap’s skills make him a fit virtually anywhere, but putting him in Toronto creates perhaps the biggest Finals roadblock for LeBron since his return to Cleveland. Toronto can send out Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson and some extras and plug Millsap right into the starting lineup. In the playoffs, top-end talent wins out. At some point, the Raptors need to realize their limitations and swing for the fences. Toronto won’t get many more chances to add an All-Star of Millsap’s caliber, and now could be the moment for the Raptors to turn themselves into an actual contender.
Needs To Be Most Careful: Nuggets
Denver is something of a Boston West, a team chockful of assets waiting to cash in on the right situation. ESPN reported the Nuggets and Hawks had deep discussions about a Millsap trade last summer, but Denver should pump the brakes before swinging a big deal this winter. If the Nuggets are going to make a deal, they need to find a star who is on more solid footing. Acquiring Millsap now, for a team that likely won’t make the playoffs let alone make any noise, would be short-sighted, particularly if Millsap opts out and leaves in the summer. Maybe Russell Westbrook doesn’t sign an extension and hits the trade market. Maybe someone in Golden State shakes loose as the salaries soar. If the Nuggets are serious about trading for a star, they still need to be a little more patient.
Really Should Jump In The Race: Thunder
Hmmm, could the Thunder find a way to acquire Millsap? OKC has been mentioned routinely in Rudy Gay whispers, but maybe Sam Presti can swing bigger. Would something like Enes Kanter, Domantas Sabonis and some picks be enough for Atlanta? Dwight Howard isn‘t getting any younger, and Kanter has already shown he’s willing to play off the bench. Meanwhile, the Thunder could add Millsap to a starting lineup that also features Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo. Those could be the bones of a contender if the Warriors are robbed of their depth next summer. This one is mostly a pipe dream, but the way Russ has been playing so far this season, we all deserve to see OKC return to contender status sooner rather than later.
Could Do Something Bold: Jazz
Utah has overcome injury issues en route to becoming the four seed in the West to start 2017. The Jazz have the talent and depth to be a tough out in the playoffs, and Millsap could maybe take them one level higher. Utah has cap room, so it could deal Derrick Favors for Millsap straight up. The Jazz would be really accelerating their timeline to compete by dealing Favors, and not to mention risking a huge failure if Millsap walked in free agency. But the starting five of George Hill-Rodney Hood-Gordon Hayward-Millsap-Rudy Gobert looks reallllllly good on paper. If anything about the Warriors should make you angry, it’s that their status as a mega-favorite discourages cool trades like this one.
Can’t Pull It Off: Wizards, Spurs
Though the Wizards have played better of late, they could certainly use an infusion of talent to become a more consistent team in the East. But Washington doesn’t really have the right mix of contracts to acquire Millsap. The same goes for the Spurs. It would be really fun to see Millsap go from Spurs East to Spurs proper, but unless Atlanta wants to play Pau Gasol alongside Howard, we won’t get to see a potentially lethal Millsap-LaMarcus Aldridge frontcourt combo.
Nuclear Option: Cavaliers
Kevin Love for Millsap works—so does Love and Mike Dunleavy for Millsap and Kyle Korver. Love is having his best season as a Cav, and this is easily the most unrealistic scenario being discussed here, but if I’m Cleveland’s front office, a deal like this deserves at least one clandestine, back-room conversation.