Paul Millsap to Oklahoma City?
The Thunder is one team with space to sign a free agent like Millsap. The team currently falls about $15 million under the cap, and Millsap has been pegged to pull a starting salary around $7-8 million. Oklahoma City can certainly afford to get into that ballpark, should Sam Presti desire to. Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune seems to believe OKC, in fact, desires Millsap.
On the surface, the relationship makes sense. OKC really needs some skilled frontline brawn. The Thunder finished the season the worst shooting team in the league, belying a lack of inside scoring that generally becomes the base of a strong field goal percentage. OKC also finished poorly in shot defense, and an active paint defender like Millsap (who, by the way, blocks a surprising number of shots, given his underwhelming height) could help. Millsap's third great quality -- which is actually his most impressive -- in offensive rebounding would bolster a squad already near the top of the league's rankings, thanks to Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison.
The one question about Millsap in Oklahoma, however, is what the team will do about the center position and Jeff Green. The team grabbed B.J. Mullens in the late first round, but even my friend Steak Tartare thinks the Buckeye is too raw. Among returning players, steady Collison and Nenad Krstic shared pivot duties last season. Green played predominantly at the power forward, which is the only place Millsap can legitimately play. Unless Presti feels paying top dollar for a back-up is smart, or if he plans to trade Green sometime soon, I'm not sure exactly where Millsap fits. If the price were cheaper, you could plunge now and let Scott Brooks figure it out in October. But cap space is precious. Filling it with a foreign puzzle piece doesn't make sense.
And please don't forget heading into all this that Utah reserves the right to match any offer for Millsap as the forward is a restricted free agent. If Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur opt out, the Jazz can sign Millsap without luxury tax worry. But if the team signs Okur to a deal starting in the $8-10 million range, and a team makes a serious offer to Millsap (the aforementioned $7-8 million), Utah will be broaching luxury tax territory for a team that is clearly a few steps behind the Western elite. And that's without Boozer.
(This is where I tell you to mark my words that Detroit will be the most passionate Millsap suitor.)