Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Paul Millsap Situation

The Portland Trailblazers have signed the Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap to an offer sheet worth around 36 million for 4 years. Since Millsap is a restricted free agent, the Jazz have 7 days to match the offer, thus retaining Millsap. However, the Jazz are trying to cut costs, and with Mehmet Okur's 2 year 21 million extension, and Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver deciding against opting out of their contracts, the Jazz are now committed to a lot of payroll. To add insult to injury, the Blazers have shrewdly added a very hefty signing on clause reportedly worth around 10.3 million to Millsap's offer, giving the Jazz even more financial headaches.

The thing is, Paul Millsap is a player I have no idea what to think about. After two very solid years off the bench as a second round energy guy, he blossomed in Boozer's injury-induced absence to the tune of 16 pts (on 54.5% shooting), 10 reb, 1.2 stl and 1 block a game in 38 starts. Monster numbers, and an absolute bargain at 7-8 million per year.

However, I'm not sure that Millsap can keep this going on a regular basis. A look at his season splits show that his absolutely monstrous number for December and January went way down as the season progressed. Since Millsap is such a high energy guy, he wears and tears very quickly, and one must wonder if he can play with the same effectiveness over 40 minutes as he can over 28. This is why I think the Blazers are making such a smart move with Millsap - adding him to a rotation with 3 other bigs, including Lamarcus Aldridge to start in front of him at the 4. Paul Millsap is best used as a 6th man, someone who can energize the second unit, and then stay on the court in crunch time. Perfect fit for Portland.

However, if the Jazz aren't keeping Boozer - and they are reportedly trying very hard to get rid of him - Millsap doesn't make sense by himself. He simply can't hold the fort alone at the PF position. He doesn't have the stamina. If he gets it, he's a borderline all-star, but as of now, the Jazz either need someone else to fill in minutes in their frontcourt rotation, and allow Millsap to get his rest, or, they need to give up on Millsap and move Boozer for a better fit. Which brings us to a segment I like to call - Trades That Should Happen:

The New York Knicks sign David Lee to a 5 year, 50 million contract, then trade Lee and Jared Jeffries to the Utah Jazz for Carlos Boozer and Matt Harpring

Great trade for everybody. The Jazz save some money (Jeffries and Harpring make the same, Boozer's 12.6 million is more than Lee's first year would be), rid themselves of Boozer, who has worn out his welcome, get a budding young PF who will thrive next to Deron Williams. Harpring at this point in his career is no more than a fringe player, and while Jeffries' contract has one more year on it, he may provide decent minutes. The Jazz can now decide whether they retain Millsap and run a very strong 3 man frontcourt rotation with Lee and Okur.

The Knicks get loads of cap space (both Boozer and Harpring come off the books at the end of the season) for 2010, unload one of their two preposterous contracts that continue after 2010 (the other being Eddy Curry's), and get an all-star caliber PF for the following season. Not to mention the possibility that Harpring may retire due to injury, leaving insurance to pay his contract. Finally, and maybe most importantly, they don't lose Lee in free agency without getting something in return.

Trades That Should Happen will be featuring regularly from here on out - just my humble contribution to a fascinating offseason so far.

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