Late Wednesday night, Yahoo! Sports (more specifically, Adrian Wojnarowski) reported that Jeff Teague “planned” to sign a 4-year offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks, and by the end of the night, “planned” turned into “signed” for the Hawks’ point guard.
Teague’s deal with Milwaukee would be for 4 years and $32 million ($8 million annually) and the Hawks will now have 3 days to decide whether to match the offer. For those unfamiliar with restricted free agency, an “offer sheet” is issued by another team (one without the rights to the player), but the player’s current team has the ability to directly match any offer within a 3-day window to assume that contract.
News of Teague signing this offer sheet isn’t exactly a surprise, as it had been widely reported/discussed that Milwaukee had real interest, but the move does take a sign-and-trade for Brandon Jennings off of the table as per the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement. Peachtree Hoops’ Jason Walker broke down four distinct options regarding how to proceed with Teague, and I would fully endorse that as a read concerning the next few days and weeks.
Personally, I believe the 4-year, $32 million price tag is pretty much exactly what Teague should have commanded in free agency. As such, I am somewhat indifferent about the Hawks matching the offer, but on the other hand, I believe it would be a mistake to proceed without Teague unless there is a defined point guard option other than deploying rookie Dennis Schroeder as the starter from day one. With free agents like Jennings (who would probably command more than $8 million per season) and Mo Williams (more of a stopgap, admittedly) available, it isn’t inconceivable that the organization could let Teague walk for nothing, but that certainly wouldn’t constitute a good use of the value of his rights.
Even if you believe in Dennis Schroeder as the “point guard of the future”, signing Teague to a reasonable contract wouldn’t lock the Hawks in to “blocking” the young German guard. Teague’s deal would be extremely movable as long as he performs at or near his 2012-2013 level, and there is real thought that, at 25 years old and in year 5, Teague could still be improving.
We will know in the next few days whether Danny Ferry and company elect to match the deal for Teague, but if they don’t, I hope there’s a backup plan in place.