The Golden State Warriors have been looking to add depth to their frontline, and it appears they now may have a chance via a trade with an Eastern Conference contender.
The Brooklyn Nets and power forward Paul Millsap have mutually agreed to a mid-year split after the four-time All-Star chose this offseason to play in New York over other viable options. The details of the decision were first broken on Twitter Friday, January 21 by NBA insider Shams Charania, of The Athletic.
“Forward Paul Millsap and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to find the four-time All-Star a new team where he can have a greater contribution, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium,” Charania wrote.
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Millsap, now 36 years old, has seen just 11.3 minutes per game for the Nets despite the team dealing with injury issues and player absences that have opened up more opportunities for playing time across the roster. The long-time NBA veteran is attempting just 3.5 field goals per night and averaging 3.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1 assist per game, according to Basketball Reference.
Warriors Were Interested in Millsap During Offseason
It is clear that at this stage of his career, Millsap is chasing a ring after spending his entire NBA tenure playing for good, but not great, teams in the Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets — none of which were ever really true title contenders.
However, Friday’s announcement also makes it clear that the forward is not interested in being a passive participant on a championship team. If Millsap hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy, he wants to have played a real part in earning the honor. Golden State could provide a unique opportunity for him to do exactly that.
There was mutual interest between Millsap and the Warriors in adding the forward to Golden State’s roster this offseason before he ultimately landed in Brooklyn. Charania also broke news on that front back in early September, roughly six weeks before opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season.
“Millsap considered several playoff contenders — including the Warriors, Bulls and Clippers — before the four-time All-Star committed to a championship favorite in Brooklyn,” Charania tweeted on September 2.
However, Nets forward Kevin Durant recently suffered an MCL sprain likely to sideline the MVP candidate for several weeks. Meanwhile, controversial All-Star guard Kyrie Irving remains unvaccinated against the coronavirus and, due to New York state law, remains ineligible to play in Nets’ home games. He only recently rejoined the team when it travels for road contests.
In other words, the Nets don’t appear to have as clear cut of a path to NBA Finals glory as they did when Millsap signed up to play there, particularly in a stacked Eastern Conference that includes the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, the always tough Heat and surprise teams playing above expectations like the Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And, of course, there’s always the Philadelphia 76ers, with one of the best players in the world in Joel Embiid and a potentially conference-shifting trade to make centering around disgruntled forward Ben Simmons.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are second in a Western Conference behind the Phoenix Suns and are being chased by a faltering Utah Jazz squad that’s won just 3 of its previous 10 games, a young Memphis Grizzlies team with minimal playoff experience, an incomplete Luka Doncic-led roster in Dallas and banged up contenders in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angels Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
What Would it Cost Warriors to Deal For Millsap?
All that is to say that the Dubs look like a considerably better bet than the Nets to make a run to the NBA Finals, at least as it stands midway through the regular season. And let’s not forget, Klay Thompson is back now and will only improve as the playoffs near.
Beyond that, Millsap also stands to earn more minutes and make a stronger impact on the Warriors’ roster than he has to this point in Brooklyn. Part of that is directly tied to the absence of Golden State’s perennial All-Star forward and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green.
Green has been sidelined since aggravating a calf injury on January 9. Specialists recently looked into the issue further and determined the calf problem is actually the result of an injury to a disc in Green’s back. The Warriors have already declared Green out for essentially the rest of the month, and that timeline could easily stretch further.
Meanwhile, second-year big man James Wiseman underwent a second knee surgery in December and his return timeline remains unclear.
“Several times I’ve said, ‘Yeah, we were hoping he would have contact in the next week,’ and then he didn’t for one reason or another,” Dubs head coach Steve Kerr said of Wiseman Thursday. “Then he had the swelling in his knee, then he had the procedure to flush the swelling out. So, there’s just been this extended time where he’s been out that has been most frustrating for him.”
The Warriors are rumored to be exploring the trade market for a big man who could put them over the top in the West. A name at the top of that list is Indiana Pacers’ shot blocker and rim runner Myles Turner. Moving on Millsap would not necessarily deter the Dubs from picking up Turner as well, who is considerably younger but who will also likely prove considerably more costly.
It is generally believed that Millsap could be had from the Nets for a second-round pick. That the Warriors already have 15 players rostered creates another obstacle to bringing in Millsap, though one Golden State could navigate rather simply by moving around a player like shooting guard Damion Lee.