Yesterday, the Hawks made a long-awaited move by trading for a backup point guard and reuniting with Jeff Teague. Atlanta has been able to get little to nothing out of a second ball-handler all season, and Teague will be more than enough to fill that void. Brandon Goodwin should also continue to receive some minutes after his performance as the most recent backup point guard. And the two should make life much easier on Trae Young, who has been asked carry too heavy of a load in his second season.
The now 31-year-old Teague spent his first seven years with the Hawks after being drafted in the first round. He was the starting point guard in five of those seasons and even made an All-Star game during that memorable 2014-2015 season in which the Hawks won 60 games. However, at the end of his tenure in Atlanta, the feeling was that Dennis Schroder was going to become the starting guard, and Teague wanted no part of that, so he forced his way out.
The Hawks ended up trading him to Indiana for a first-round pick, which they turned into Taurean Prince, who they swapped for a couple of first-round selections and Allen Crabbe, who just happened to be who Atlanta traded to Minnesota for Jeff Teague (talk about coming full circle).
After a year in Indiana, Teague signed a three-year, $57 million contract with the Timberwolves, and while he’s been an average starting guard, he hasn’t lived up to his $19 million annual salary. Teague’s been productive this season, averaging 13.2 points on 44.8% shooting, including 37.9% from deep and 6.1 assists, but it’s about time he starts thinking about the next stage of his career, which could be something like a sixth man role.
The Hawks don’t need a backup point guard just for this season. They need one for the foreseeable future, and Teague has the chance to make an impression on general manager Travis Schlenk. In a piece by Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (subscription required to view), Kirschner writes, “Schlenk said the Hawks have been targeting Teague since the beginning of the season, and they are interested in bringing him back next season when his contract expires if everything goes well for the next 41 games.”
Schlenk was also quoted calling the situation a “dress rehearsal.”
Teague’s only 31 and has been an effective starter in this league for the past nine years. There’s a chance he could be an extremely productive piece to a second-unit that has been lifeless all season and thrive in a sixth-man type role. The Hawks will have all the cap space in the world next offseason, and there isn’t going to be many quality guys to spend their money on. Teague has an excellent opportunity to thrive back in Atlanta for years to come.