As the news of Paul Millsap's recent contract negotiations slowly leaks out, one thing is becoming clear: Kevin O'Connor screwed up. O'Connor is generally a smart GM and has put together decent, winning teams over the years. Most of hig big moves -- signing Boozer at a discounted rate, trading up for the pick to get Williams, etc. -- are the right ones. But this was a misstep.
O'Connor, like most Jazz fans, was surely overjoyed when Detroit and Oklahoma City dropped out of the running for Millsap's services. It was a bit of a lucky break, but it really only made up for the unlucky break we got when Boozer opted in for next year. There were still threats on the horizon, namely Portland. But Kevin got overconfident. Everyone in the NBA, even in this down economic year, knew roughly what Millsap's value was: $8-10 million over four years. If the Jazz brass had gone to Paul's representatives seven days ago with a $36 million contract, he would have signed. They've said as much.
Instead O'Connor lowballed them at $7.5 million a year and literally dared them to get a better offer sheet. Which they promptly did. Was Portland's decision a stupid one? Probably. But just like on the golf course when you have to assume your opponent is going to make his next putt even if he's fifty feet away, in the NBA you have to think that other teams are going to come after your top talent. Whining to the press afterwards about how dumb the Blazers are doesn't change the situation.
Now the Jazz are stuck between a tall dog and a fire hydrant. They've -- thank goodness -- told Boozer he's no longer welcome. But now they need to come up with $11 million in the next week to resign Millsap. Although no one in the mainstream media has speculated about this, you have to wonder if the Miller family even has that kind of liquidity. It ain't like car dealerships are a lucrative business right now, and the Jazz are out of season and not providing any cash flow. They may have to go to a bank. . . and let's just say credit is tight. Then there's the millions more in luxury tax we'll owe.
But to let Millsap walk at what is a pretty decent contract over time would be a real tragedy. Let's hope O'Connor doesn't follow a big mistake with an even bigger one.