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As good as the Nets are, they still needed Paul Millsap

As good as the Nets are, they still needed Paul Millsap

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Paul Millsap is set to be the Nets’ most important big man off the bench.

Paul Millsap is set to be the Nets’ most important big man off the bench.
Image: Getty Images

One of two things — or both — are related to Paul Millsap reportedly signing with the Brooklyn Nets today.

  1. When the Nets signed LaMarcus Aldridge on March 28 of last year, the expectation was that they had brought in a veteran big man who could rebound, defend and stretch the floor — all things the Nets had struggled with — which ties into…
  2. DeAndre Jordan.

The Aldridge piece is important because, after five games, he abruptly retired in April due to an irregular heartbeat. Presumably, he would’ve played the role Millsap will now be expected to fill, but more on that in a bit. Aldridge, by the way, has been cleared to come back, and the Nets are the leaders to sign him, per Shams Charania, despite having just added Millsap.

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With two years and $19.7 million left on his contract, Jordan was rendered unplayable last year, but even before that, Kenny Atkinson had been playing Jarrett Allen ahead of him (as most of us would’ve), which reportedly didn’t sit well with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, all three of whom signed to Brooklyn in the famous “clean sweep.” Jordan has since denied that, but as soon as Atkinson was gone, Jacque Vaughn and the Nets were starting Jordan at center. Allen reclaimed his rightful spot in the bubble only because Jordan didn’t participate.

And this past season, the only times both Allen and Jordan were both active and Allen came off the bench were his final four games as a Net before being included in the James Harden trade and going to his current Cleveland Cavaliers situation, which has made him a $100 millionaire.

As for the 33-year-old Jordan, he started in 43 of 57 appearances this season, averaging 7.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in the regular season while posting a career-worst 111 defensive rating. His second-worst rating was 107, which he accumulated in the first two years of his career, and at that point, he hadn’t yet become a full-time starter. His total rebound percentage of 18.9 percent is also his lowest tally since 2012-13. If you go through Jordan’s season, it’s a lot of that, which is why he’s about to get bought out, and it’s also why he was out of the rotation by the end of the regular season and didn’t log a single playoff minute.

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Millsap, who turns 37 in February, spent his last four seasons with the Denver Nuggets as a productive starting power forward, playing alongside Nikola Jokić. Millsap averaged 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while posting 48/37/74 shooting splits in four years with the Nuggets. Last season, at 20.8 minutes per game, Millsap averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest on 48/34/72 splits. It was his least productive season there, but in his 15th season, and one after a quick turnaround from the bubble, it’s understandable. He only averaged 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in 12 playoff games, all of which were off the bench appearances, and at 12.1 minutes per outing.

With an expected starting five of the aforementioned Irving and Durant, along with James Harden, Joe Harris, and, presumably, Blake Griffin at center, Millsap becomes the Nets’ most important big off the bench save for Nic Claxton, and Aldridge if that gets done. In fact, Millsap will be in the Jeff Green role from last season, which is interesting because Green is now with Denver, and might man Millsap’s old spot. Either way, Millsap hasn’t been a mostly non-starter since the 2009-10 season, but it’s probably what’s best for his career as it pertains to mileage, a chance at a championship, and fit with this roster. This is going to be year 16, after all, and yet, this may be the most we’ll pay attention to him nationally, and that includes four consecutive All-Star seasons with the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-to-2017. 



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