The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly taking calls about three-time All-Star forward Paul Millsap, and this news was not much of a surprise to anybody. The Hawks have been inconsistent this season, and they're at risk of losing Millsap for nothing in free agency in July. As they try to build a team that can challenge the Eastern Conference's elite in the next few seasons, they're going to have to make difficult decisions about the 32-year-old Millsap and the 35-year-old Kyle Korver, who could also walk in the summer.

Millsap, however, told reporters Tuesday that he wants to stay where he is. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore:

"Rumors are rumors," Millsap said Tuesday before the Hawks departed for a four-game road trip. "I think we know that. Been down this road before. I think we talked at the beginning of the year that it wasn't going to be the first or the last time. It is what it is. Whatever happens, I think everybody knows where my heart is and where I want to be. But we'll see what happens. The only thing I can worry about and I can do is to go out there and play my butt off every night and try to get wins for this team."

And his heart would be here?

"That would be here, yes," he said.

...

"I'm human," Millsap said. "You don't want to hear things like that. With that being said, I'm also a professional. I've been around the league for a while. I know the business of the league. Some stuff, like my mom said, you let it roll off your back like water on a duck's back. You keep moving on."

Paul Millsap in Atlanta
Paul Millsap isn't thrilled to hear his name in trade rumors. USATSI

A few thoughts:

  • Ordinarily, this kind of declaration would be awesome for a team like Atlanta. Players as good as Millsap are difficult to acquire, and even if his production slips a bit in the next few years, his basketball IQ and quiet, professional approach to the game aren't going anywhere. The Hawks, though, are in a weird spot. After trading Jeff Teague, signing Dwight Howard and losing Al Horford last offseason, their offense is nowhere near what it was when they won 60 games two seasons ago. The front office has committed major money to Howard, Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore, and there's a real argument for trading Millsap rather than signing him to an enormous maximum contract under the new collective bargaining agreement. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is not a consensus in the organization on this issue.
  • Last May, Horford said, "I know, and I believe in my heart, that this is a special place and I feel like the way the Hawks organization is going, it's going in the right direction," via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then he left, and Atlanta got nothing in return. Does the front office regret not moving him before last year's trade deadline now? That could affect how it handles the Millsap situation.
  • Despite Millsap's stated preference, a trade could be best for both sides. Let's say he gets another chance to take down the Cleveland Cavaliers as a member of the Toronto Raptors or Boston Celtics, or he gets to team up with Russell Westbrook with the Oklahoma City Thunder or James Harden with the Houston Rockets -- at that point, would he really be bummed out about the Hawks trading him? If he lands in a situation that he's excited about, he could wind up saying that it was time to move on.