Will Paul Millsap Join Spurs?

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMay 7, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 26:  Paul Milsap #24 of the Utah Jazz and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs battle for position in the first quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs at the EnergySolutions Arena on May 26, 2007 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

With San Antonio being knocked out of the first-round earlier than usual, head coach Greg Popovich will undoubtedly be looking to upgrade their team.

However, the Spurs do not posses any first-round picks and the upcoming draft class is loaded with point guards and small on size. The Spurs already have their backcourt secured in Tony Parker and last year's first-round draftee George Hill. This rules in the possibility of rebuilding their starting line.

So in other words, another way San Antonio will be able to repair the battered front-line is through free agency.

Three of the four active frontcourt players on San Antonio's roster that are currently under contract past next season are over the age of 33, with the only exception being Matt Bonner, who will be turning 30 over the summer.

Here are the remaining ages of their others: Duncan 33, Thomas 36, and Oberto 34.

Another way to improve their team is through free agency, where there are a few pieces who could help their team.

I believe their main offseason target should be Jazz forward Paul Millsap.

He stabilized Utah's front-line, kept Deron Williams assist numbers afloat, and has continued to enforce the Jazz's representation of one of the most physical teams in the league with his stalwart-toned stature low in the post.

He averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, and a blocked shot, while shooting over 55 percent from the field in his first stint as a starter for Jerry Sloan.

He has quickly emerged as Utah's best post presence offensively and defensively. His strong hands and wide frame make him a monster on the boards. With consistent strong play, the Jazz may be able to let Carlos Boozer inhabit free agency this offseason—and reports have it that Boozer is fond of Miami.

Millsap's string of 19 consecutive double-doubles was the highest the Utah Jazz have witnessed since the likes of Karl Malone who racked at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in 44 straight games during the '90s. He racked up 24 of them on the year and will continue to notch feats as long as he stays patient and understands his role on the team.

Millsap is a restricted free agent after this season, meaning that the Jazz can match any offer thrown at him this summer. This is a major advantage for any organization to have when attempting to solidify a certain position for years to come.

He shot 53 percent from the field and notched 29 double-doubles in his first year as a starter.

He averaged 11 points, eight rebounds, a steal, and a block, and made over half of his attempts from the field (25-49) in the Jazz's first-round series against the Lakers.

Millsap made only $797,581 this year, a clear steal considering how he energized the Jazz in the absence of Carlos Boozer.

Now because he is a restricted free agent, the Jazz have the right to match any offer directed towards Millsap by another team.

Reports are that Carlos Boozer wants to return to Utah, as they also have to work on new contracts for starting center Mehmet Okur and three-point specialist Kyle Korver. If Utah commits the lion's share money to those players, they may not have enough resources to keep Millsap in Utah.

The Spurs have veterans Michael Finley, Ime Udoka, Jauqe Vaughn, and Drew Gooden coming off the books, meaning San Antonio will have over $5 million in cap space in the summer plus their mid-level exception to dangle in front of any free agent.

This opens up a window for a team like the San Antonio Spurs, who desperately needs the strength, intensity, and rebounding of a player of his caliber.

He also can defend on the block and down low in the post, something that the Spurs valued with their beloved veteran Kurt Thomas. However, Thomas seemed to be noticeably a step slower this season, which is expected in a 13-year veteran.

Considering San Antonio will never be bad enough to be a lottery team under Popovich and with stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, this may be the only way to get a rising star without shelling out one of their core players.

San Antonio needs to get younger and this move could be the first step towards changing the dimensions as well as the element of their team.


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