Atlanta Hawks, NBA Free Agency

Paul Millsap opts out of Hawks deal, becomes free agent

As expected, Atlanta Hawks All-Star power forward Paul Millsap will opt out of the final year of his three-year deal to become an unrestricted free agent.

Over the last four years, power forward Paul Millsap has transformed himself into a perennial All-Star as the best player on the Atlanta Hawks. Millsap has made four straight All-Star Games since arriving in Atlanta in 2013 NBA free agency from the Utah Jazz.

Though he has made it clear publicly that he would prefer to stay in Atlanta, Millsap wisely decided to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Hawks to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Vertical’s Sham Charania reports that Millsap will be leaving $21.4 million on the table to test the free agency market for the second time in three years. Millsap did opt out his initial three-year deal with the Hawks in summer 2015. He did decide to re-up in Atlanta after considering free agency destinations like with the Orlando Magic.

Since Millsap is 32 years old, this new deal would presumably be his last big contract as a professional. While still very much in his prime as a basketball player, Millsap isn’t getting any younger. Though he gained a 3-point shot since coming to Atlanta, Millsap did see a regression to his long-range game in 2016-17.

Millsap remains one of the best isolation players in the frontcourt, an excellent, versatile defender and one of the better rebounding power forwards in the game. The problem is that he just can’t be the best player on a championship contender.

Since reaching the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks have won a combined six playoff games the last two years. Atlanta has been a playoff team each of the last 10 seasons, but the Hawks do now find themselves in the awful middle of the NBA hierarchy.

Parting ways with head coach Mike Budenholzer could be very tough for Millsap, but testing the waters in unrestricted free agency may be his best shot at winning an NBA Championship while still in his prime. Expect Millsap to make some serious coin this summer. He will be the best power forward on the free agent market.

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