It never was realistic that the Hawks would be able to keep both Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll from leaving in free agency, and it was even more clear that re-signing Millsap was the higher priority. But as tough as it was seeing the popular Carroll leave for Toronto on Wednesday, this figure should help ease the Hawks’ pain: $60 million.
That’s what the Raptors will pay Carroll over the next four seasons. It effectively raises his annual salary from about $2.4 million to $15 million. Nothing against Carroll, a great defensive player who developed a nice offensive game this season. But he’s not a $15 million a year player. Al Horford was the highest paid Hawk last season at $12 million.
But Carroll’s loss hurts. Here are some early offseason thoughts on the Hawks.
• UPDATE (6:40 p.m.): Millsap had a reported four-year, $80 million offer from the Orlando Magic but instead re-signed with the Hawks for three years and $58.938 million ($19.646 million average), according to Chris Vivlamore. Why take less? Because the third year of the deal is actually a player option, meaning Millsap can — and almost certainly will — hit the free agent market again after two seasons, when the NBA salary cap is higher than now. Millsap will make $38.446 million in the first two years of the deal, doubling what he made over the last two ($19 million).
• The Hawks acquired 6-11 power forward/center Tiago Splitter from San Antonio. Specifics of the trade have not been announced but the Hawks reportedly did not have to part with any current roster player because the Spurs were mostly interested in clearing salary cap space. Splitter represents a significant upgrade for the Hawks up front over Pero Antic (who signed with a team in Turkey). He can start with Horford when the Hawks go “big” or come off the bench. However…
• Pending other moves, the Hawks have a hole at small forward. If the team re-signs Millsap as expected — they reportedly have equaled Orlando’s max offer of four years at $20 million per season — they can’t really go with a starting front line of Horford-Splitter-Millsap because Millsap can’t defend the “3” spot. The Hawks could start Thabo Sefolosha at small forward but he will be returning from a broken leg and coach Mike Budenholzer might prefer him coming off the bench, as he did most of this season.
• The Hawks inherit the final two years of Splitter’s contract at $8.5 million and $8.25 million, respectively. But they’re in good shape, salary cap-wise, pending Millsap’s status and any other moves.
For now, I like the Splitter deal and hate to see Carroll leave but the Hawks couldn’t keep him at that price.
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