Here's a twist: Paul Millsap, the veteran power forward who helped lead the Hawks to the best record in the East this season, met with the Orlando Magic just as the 2015 NBA free agency period began Wednesday according to NBA.com's David Aldridge. ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that the Magic offered Millsap a massive four-year, $80 million deal and that the Hawks are offering the same deal.
If Millsap accepts the Hawks' offer, that could make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Atlanta to retain free agent DeMarre Carroll. Carroll may have to take a discount to stay.
The Hawks may have outsmarted themselves by signing both players to two-year contracts when they initially got them. While both were bargains during the last two years, the short deals prevent Atlanta from going over the salary cap to re-sign them. There was, and is still, some hope that Millsap could be signed using the Early Bird exception, which has a first-year salary around $16.6 million. That'd preserve cap space for Carroll.
But with Orlando now entering the bidding, it's likely Atlanta must use cap space to sign both. The Hawks will have somewhere between $25-30 million to split on their two forwards, which may not be enough.
The Magic have plenty of cap space and a prospective need at power forward as Tobias Harris is a free agent. In fact, there's a rumor that if Millsap chooses Orlando,the Magic could agree to send Harris up to Atlanta in a sign-and-trade deal. Under new coach Scott Skiles, the Magic are expected to play a defense-first, smashmouth style; the tough but skilled Millsap would fit well and might immediately be the team's best shooter.
The Magic picked up Mario Hezonja in the NBA Draft and feature young prospects Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon. Orlando went 25-57 last year and has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
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