Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Missing Piece: Paul Millsap

Blazer fans have until Friday night to contemplate whether Paul Millsap is one of the final missing pieces to the Trail Blazer puzzle. On Saturday, Portland signed the restricted free agent from Utah to an offer sheet that would pay the power forward $32 million over 4 years, with $10.3 million to be paid up front within the first week of signing the contract; the "toxic" part of the contract. Normally, the Jazz wouldn't think twice about matching the offer, as Millsap appears to be in their long-term plans, but with the NBA luxury tax dropping to $69.92 million and the Jazz already having a team salary of $73 million, thanks to Mehmet Okur, Kyle Korver, and Carlos Boozer all opting back into their contracts, it makes the Millsap deal very hard to swallow as it would put Utah $12 million over the luxury tax. A lot of people like to hinge on the negatives of a player and what they can't do. Naysayers say he is undersized at the 4 position (last time I checked 6'8" isn't small for a power forward and I believe Buck Wiliams and Brian Grant and their 6'8" height would agree as well) or that he doesn't possess a face up game or he is only a Jerry Sloan system player. But while reading The Long, Hot Winter by Rick Adelman, he thought it was more important to focus on what a player could do for your team instead of dwelling on what they couldn't provide. Regardless of how much we had to offer Millsap, you have to overpay for free agents anyway, he is the perfect fit and more importantly, his strengths are our weaknesses. Although the Trail Blazers led the league in offensive rebounding last year, they were only a horrid 27th in defensive rebounding. A banger at the power forward probably wasn't high on the list of off-season priorities until we all witnessed Louis Scola grabbing 7 offensive rebounds in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Even Brandon Roy took notice and wanted the team to add some toughness and nastiness to the squad. Millsap fits the bill as he is a hard-working, blue collar player who led the NCAA in rebounding for 3 straight years, ranked 9th in total rebounding percentage in 2009 and, when given playing time, is a walking double double. Not to mention, he won't rock the boat. He has already assured Coach McMillan that he will be fine coming off the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge, which makes him a perfect fit chemistry wise. There is no doubt that the 4 man rotation of Oden, Przybilla, Aldridge, and Millsap automatically becomes the elite front court in the NBA. There's only one problem, playing time. With 96 minutes available between the two post positions and 4 guys hungry for playing time, the math just doesn't add up. 24 minutes a night isn't enough to satisfy all 4 or to even get them into a rhythm. There are a coupe of ways to open up some minutes though. If Utah doesn't match, it makes Joel more of a trade asset. As much as it pains me to type that, he does have an opportunity to opt out of his contract after this season, which he probably will in hopes of getting one last big contract before he retires. Also, as Oden progresses and minutes increase, who knows if Joel wants to take a lesser role with the team? Another possibility would be to increase Aldridge's playing time at the small forward due to his length, outside shooting, and ability to defend the perimeter well. I am 100% Pro-Millsap. He is the perfect fit to this organization on every level, not to mention how devastating it would be to the Jazz franchise. We need toughness and rebounding from the 4, he delivers. We look for players who put the team ahead of themselves, check. Also, this is the last time for a long time that Portland is going to have cap space to outright sign a player without giving up any assets whatsoever and as much as everyone likes the lopsided trade idea, we have enough trade assets to make almost anything happen anyways. Why not get someone for nothing but monetary value? One reason I was hesitant on acquiring Hedo was his age, 30, and that he had already peaked 2 seasons ago. There is no question that Millsap is young enough to grow with our core, at age 24, has been in the playoffs every years of his career, and still has upside. Hopefully on Friday night, Trail Blazer fans can celebrate Paul Millsap being the "missing piece".


  1. Very good article D. I am 100% Millsap as well and I don't think Utah can go through with their loan. I dont want to see Joel go, but that might be the answer after this season ends. Should have kept Frye who is now going to be back in the sun. I see good things for the upcoming year and it will come down to the others stepping up when Roy is contained.

    NO SERGIO = NBA Championship!

  2. Looks like we have a little over 24 hours until we find out if Millsap will be matched or not. Deep down, I feel he will be, but at least we force Utah out of their comfort zone and make them pay up front huge money. I love Channing, just don't think he and Nate saw eye to eye.