The San Antonio Spurs did as expected, trading Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks, who absorbed his contract which still enabled them to re-sign Paul Millsap but lost DeMarre Carroll, who signed with the Toronto Raptors.
Splitter fell out of favor this season and some would say in the NBA Finals last year as Boris Diaw took over his role. For a player getting less than 20 minutes a night, despite his defense and solid scoring (8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds per game), paying $16 million over the next two seasons was too much for the Spurs amid all their maneuvers to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to sign with them.
For the Hawks, who made the conference finals last season but got swept by the Cavaliers, it was crucial they added another big man to a team that starts Al Horford at center but had no paint-player backup to either him or Millsap except for Elton Brand. Splitter isn’t exactly a player who creates spacing and outside shooting, but he worked well in a system that did, and knows his new head coach, Mike Budenholzer, quite well.
It was always going to come down between keeping Millsap or Carroll. The Hawks weren’t planning on accommodating both of them, considering the pay rise they were about to get. Carroll decided to go to the Raptors, signing a four-year, $60 million deal. The problem for him will be working in a very different environment. Per Trey Kerby: 82.7% of DeMarre Carroll’s hoops were assisted last year, on league’s best AST% team. Just signed with the league’s 3rd worst AST% team.
Millsap averaged 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season for the Hawks, dealing with an injury in the postseason and late in the year. He is a power forward who can play inside, but operates very well around the perimeter, shooting 35.6% from beyond the arc and being the team’s second best passer after Teague. The Hawks did lose the player who performed better than anyone for them in the playoffs, but the inside presence gained from Splitter might offset that loss.