Paul Millsap might not be quite the player he once was as he approaches his 36th birthday, but he remains a very valuable reserve in the right situation. He held such a role with the Denver Nuggets, but after signing Jeff Green with part of their mid-level exception and retaining JaMychal Green through Bird Rights, they simply didn’t have the minutes or the room beneath the luxury tax line to justify a meaningful offer for their backup big man. That has left Millsap as one of the last remaining free agents capable of contributing to a winner, and sure enough, two such teams are apparently trying to sign him.
The Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets are interested in Millsap, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The Nets have only the veteran’s minimum to offer. The Warriors could technically sign Millsap for up to $5.9 million using the taxpayer mid-level exception, but the luxury tax would make doing so prohibitively expensive. Golden State is already in line for a $184 million tax bill. Adding another $5.9 million in salary for Millsap would push that total up to $224 million in tax payments, though a corresponding cost-cutting move would likely follow to clear a roster spot for Millsap. In all likelihood, that means Golden State would offer only the minimum, or something fairly close.
The Nets have tax concerns as well — their current bill is closer to $130 million — but they are not paying the repeater tax as the Warriors are, so extra salary at this point is not taxed at nearly as high a rate.
Both the Nets and Warriors have more than 15 players under contract, but creating room for Millsap in time for the regular season would be possible. The Warriors have three players with non-guaranteed contracts in Mychal Mulder, Damion Lee and Gary Payton II. The Nets have one fully non-guaranteed player in Alize Johnson and another partially guaranteed player in DeAndre’ Bembry.
The question for both teams in pursuit of Millsap is what sort of role they could offer him. Draymond Green will play plenty of minutes in Golden State’s front-court, and developing James Wiseman will be a priority. That would leave Millsap to compete with Nemanja Bjelica and Kevon Looney for minutes behind them, but his defensive versatility and ability to play either power forward or center could give him the inside track on a more prominent bench role. In Brooklyn, Blake Griffin and Nic Claxton will likely take the bulk of the center minutes with De’Andre Jordan also in place as a third option, but Jeff Green’s departure could open up minutes at power forward if Kevin Durant starts games at small forward.
If Millsap is willing to play for the minimum, he shouldn’t have any trouble finding a contender. If the Lakers end up needing a big man to replace Marc Gasol, he would surely be on their list as well, and if he is so inclined, Millsap could even wait until the season begins to see which team needs him enough to guarantee him a bigger role. He might not be an All-Star at this stage of his career, but big men who can contribute on both ends of the floor are rare, and getting one for the minimum, regardless of their age, is a major win for the team that does so.