Paul Millsap Makes His Move to Brooklyn
Veteran forward was final piece added to Nets' roster
As the NBA offseason creeped past Labor Day, the start of training camp just weeks away, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks had one more move in him. A month after the free agency period had begun, a week after bringing back LaMarcus Aldridge, Marks signed veteran forward Paul Millsap to complete the Brooklyn roster — a late remaking of the Nets’ frontcourt depth.
The timing may have represented the difficulty of the decision for Millsap as he heads into his 16th season. He’s played for just three teams over his career — Utah, Atlanta, and Denver — and been part of 50-win teams in all three stops, playing at least four seasons with each team. He hasn’t been casually hopping around the league throughout the years.
One thing that has been missing for the four-time All-Star is an NBA championship, and he left behind a contender in Denver to pursue a title with the Nets.
“It was a tough and long process for me,” said Millsap at Brooklyn’s Media Day on Monday. “A lot of factors weighed into my decision. Being a part of this organization, of Brooklyn and the team that’s around, it was a decision that I made based off of winning now and trying to win a championship this year. I feel like with the pieces that we have it was definitely possible.”
Millsap was lured to Brooklyn by the pursuit of Marks and Nets head coach Steve Nash, who played against Millsap regularly when Nash was with the Suns and Millsap with the Jazz, along with the overflowing talent in the Brooklyn locker room.
Even as he heads into another phase of his career at 36 years old, Millsap adds to those riches. He’s got career averages of 13.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the field. Millsap brings physicality at 6-foot-7 and 246 pounds, but he’s also a career 34.3 percent shooter from 3-point range and for a six-year stretch averaged at least 2.5 assists every season.
It was during that run that Millsap earned each of his All-Star Game selections and posted career highs of 18.1 points and 3.7 assists per game while with the Hawks in 2016-17, a year after averaging a career-high 9.0 rebounds.
“Paul Millsap’s a tough, intelligent, skilled big who’s seen it all,” said Nash, “so another guy that can play a few positions and stretch the floor or play inside, can pass and play-make and facilitate and understand and be able to fit into any defense.”
“As a player I still see myself as a really good player,” said Millsap. “I’m not going to take any of that away from myself. I think when you get older you learn what a real team is about and what your role is on that team. This team is not going to need me to get out there and go to work on the block and score 15, 20 points. I understand that. Knowing my role on this team is going to be big and crucial and everybody knowing their role is going to be big and crucial to winning.”
After starting regularly for the last 11 seasons, that role in Brooklyn is likely to be part of a second unit overflowing with experience with Millsap, Patty Mills and whichever veteran — Aldridge or Blake Griffin — doesn’t start at center. Millsap’s arrival on the heels of the Aldridge signing dramatically reshaped Brooklyn’s frontcourt and there are plenty of options available to Nash as he works through lineup combinations during the preseason.
“At this point, I don’t know,” said Millsap. “That’s something, that’s what training camp is for to figure out all those ins and outs and what unit is what. By the end of the day, we all have to learn to play with each other and we all have to learn how to jell and mesh together. We’ll wait until training camp to try to figure out all that, try to enjoy the process.”
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