Utah Jazz: Should the Jazz Consider Keeping Paul Millsap for the Future?
When Paul Millsap declined the 3-year, $25 million extension offered by the Utah Jazz, his future in Salt Lake City seemed to be coming to an end, as he prefers to test his value on the open market this summer (via Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune).
Furthermore, Millsap has quietly wandered in the midst of trade talk for the past month, garnering the attention of the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, according to a report from Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
With that being said, the Jazz should really look into keeping Millsap for their future rebuilding plans.
He's only 27, but his ceiling is relatively low at this point, compared to the younger Jazz backup power forward—Derrick Favors. Millsap will probably be the same player he is right now, and it's hard to see him vastly improving his skills.
However, there is still a short supply of forwards who are as versatile and complete as Millsap is.
Millsap's defense is probably the more underrated aspect of his game. His 6'8", 253-pound frame would usually label him as "undersized" for a power forward, but his strength and quickness allows him to guard any other forward in the league.
Offensively, Millsap is as efficient and polished as any power forward in the league. For the past three seasons, he has recorded per-36-minute averages of 18.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals on 51 percent shooting from the field (per Basketball Reference).
Out of all power forwards in the league, Millsap chimes in at sixth in PER this season with a healthy rating of 20.41 (per Hollinger's Player Statistics).
He can face-up, dribble, pass, rebound, post-up and defend anybody at his position. He may be undersized, but he makes up for it with strength and toughness on defense, and quickness and fluidity on offense.
Can help Favors develop
Although Favors and Millsap basically play the position, Millsap's offensive game is miles beyond Favors' at this point.
Assuming that the Jazz decide to ship away Al Jefferson and keep Millsap instead, Favors could still get a lot more minutes while starting as center or shifting Millsap to small forward.
Millsap is a proven veteran, with all-around abilities that every team cherishes in a power forward. Unlike Jefferson, Millsap can provide so much more on the floor when he doesn't have the ball in his hands, which gives the younger Jazz players more opportunities to show what they can do on the court.
Moreover, his complete offensive abilities would correspond nicely with the Favors' defensive prowess at the other end of the court. With a guy like Millsap helping Favors along, he would quickly become a much more intimidating presence on both ends of the floor in the near future.
Won't get equal value in return
Millsap would demand a high price in the open market, but he probably won't get a max contract. If the Jazz decided to move him before the trade deadline, it's unlikely that the players the Jazz would get in return would be anywhere near Millsap's value.
I wrote an article about a few possible trade scenarios including Millsap, but none of the returns would benefit the Jazz in the short or long term more than Millsap.
The best pieces that the Jazz could get in return would probably include expiring contracts and younger prospects who might have a difficult time finding playing time, especially since the team has a plethora of young talent on the bench already.
How much is Millsap demanding?
If the Jazz do indeed keep Millsap past the trade deadline, it can be assumed that they will look to sign him to a bigger, longer contract over the summer.
But how much will Millsap realistically demand on the open market? As mentioned earlier, he already rejected an extension that would pay him roughly $8 million per year, which is reasonable considering that he's worth more than that.
But how much more?
If the Jazz can pony up $12-13 million a year for Millsap, it would probably be enough for him to stay. He is a more efficient, consistent player than Josh Smith—another versatile forward in a similar situation—so some team will likely offer him a bloated contract.
Millsap's versatile skill set and abilities are only possessed by a handful of power forwards in the league. Dealing him away in an unbalanced trade might even be worse for the franchise's future than signing him to a bigger contract.
Not all of the responsibility is on the Jazz management, though.
Millsap will be an unrestricted free agent by season's end, so it's up to him to decide if he still wants to stay in Utah.
The Jazz are one of the quietest teams in the league, concealing most of their management talks behind closed doors. But you can't help but assume that Millsap and the front office are discussing plans about his future with the Jazz.
When the time comes, the team should really consider keeping Millsap for the future. There are very few players like him, and any team who picks him up in free agency will unquestionably become better.
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