The way Paul Millsap left the Utah Jazz had some people wondering if the Jazz just pulled the proverbial rug out from under him--or hung him out to dry. Here Millsap was, entering the prime years of his NBA career--and people were talking about what Derrick Favors, another top Jazz prospect, could do for the team instead of Millsap.
So Millsap left Utah and found a home in Atlanta playing for the fledgling Hawks, a team coached by veteran NBA assistant Mike Budenholzer and his assistants who were also former, longtime NBA assistants--current Jazz head coach Quin Snyder chief among them.
Millsap flourished in his first year in Atlanta. He posted career highs in scoring (18 points, 9 rebounds) for the Hawks, helping lead his new team to a playoff berth while collecting an NBA All-Star spot.
On Monday, July 28, with Kevin Love among others being unable to accept the invitation that Team USA presented, Millsap was officially invited to participate at the Americans' training camp in Las Vegas starting this week.
Playing in Las Vegas with a chance to impress USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyszewski and staff is a tremendous opportunity for Millsap, who also took the final roster spot on the 19-man roster after Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Alrdidge abdicated theirs.
Millsap was the guy who spent his formative years in Utah learning how to become the team's next Karl Malone--after all, Millsap was from Louisiana and like Malone, Millsap played at Louisiana Tech in college.
His aspirations to be that next Mailman who delivered the Jazz riches, however, never came to fruition and Millsap left via free agency after averaging just 13 points and six rebounds in his first seven years as a pro.
The Hawks have clearly been the best thing for Millsap's career. Millsap not only became the focal point for a team filled with young talent; he is now beginning to reach the potential most thought he had--but never reached--in Utah.
Now Millsap can take that next step this week in Vegas and do something most believed he would never do--before this year, that is--take that All-Star year and turn it into something possibly more Olympic in scope. Only time will tell but Millsap has as good a chance as anyone on the 19-man roster to make the final 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup.