Editor’s note: this submission was sent in by Jeffrey Cooperstein who is rejoining our staff this off-season. He’ll have a byline soon!
Four-time All-Star Paul Millsap is an unrestricted free agent come 5 p.m. today. After a four-year stint in Atlanta where he produced the best numbers of his career, Millsap has seen a steady decline in production for three years in a row. Is he still good enough for the Mavs in a reduced role?
In Millsap, you’re getting a guy who played 24 minutes a game last season in a starting role for a team who made an appearance in the Western Conference Finals after two dramatic series in the bubble in Orlando. Millsap averaged 11.6 points, the lowest he’s averaged since his fourth year in the league. He did bring down 5.7 rebounds a game, but playing next to Nikola Jokic, he didn’t have to do much of it.
It was a small sample size, but Millsap did shoot a career best 43.5% from three-point range last year, and the Mavericks are always looking for bigs who can stretch the floor. Millsap has always been a player who is able to score at a high level for his position in the league, without really developing an outside shot until the last few seasons. His scoring numbers have dropped off a little bit, but he’s still good for 10 points a game off the bench. A savvy veteran with playoff experience.
Millsap is not the player he once was. After sustaining a serious injury to his wrist in November of 2017 that kept him out for months, that All-Star that was the leader of a very good Atlanta Hawks team was no longer present. A starter, and a good one at that for the majority of his career, Millsap looks poised to be coming off the bench somewhere in 2020. Fit with the Mavericks: There is a fit for Millsap in Dallas, depending on the type of salary he commands. The Mavs could use his veteran presence and leadership, as well as his 20 minutes a game off the bench he can provide you. While the Mavericks are more likely in the market for a center than a power forward, Millsap wouldn’t be the worst free-agent signing the Mavs could make.
Will he be a Dallas Maverick?
In short, probably not. While Millsap would be a nice addition, the Mavericks have depth at the PF position with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Dorian Finney-Smith when Rick Carlisle goes with a small lineup. The biggest thing in the Mavericks’ favor, however, is that Jerami Grant (who looks poised to re-sign with Denver) and Michael Porter Jr. are ready to take on bigger roles in that position. While in another year it might be more of a possibility, Millsap will more than likely be playing his home games somewhere other than Dallas in 2020-21.