Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Hornets center Robin Lopez (15) defends Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) during the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
After a couple of days of indecision, the Atlanta Hawks have a starting point guard again.
On Saturday night, the team confirmed an earlier report by the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore that Jeff Teague’s 4-year, $32 million offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks. In short, Teague will be returning to Atlanta on a new contract with those terms as a result of his restricted free agency.
In the few moments since the Teague deal was announced, there has been some varying opinion on the subject, but frankly, I am more than okay with the move. The Hawks were still in need of a starting-caliber point guard, and there seemed to be only 3 legitimate options on the market in the form of Brandon Jennings, Mo Williams, and Teague. Obviously, the team is intimately familiar with Jeff’s work over the past few seasons, and Danny Ferry elected to go with the known commodity against taking a risk elsewhere.
Teague, at 25 years old, could potentially grow into a better player, but even at his 2012-2013 production level, he is worthy of an $8 million per year payday. He produced a 16.82 PER this season after averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per game while shooting 45% from the field and 36% from 3-point distance. Those numbers don’t blow you away, but he was the more efficient player than Brandon Jennings this season, and with a young “project” point guard in Schroder on the horizon, he should provide a steadying influence.
The quote of the night comes from Danny Ferry, who said this in the Hawks’ press release concerning the Teague deal:
"“We are happy to bring Jeff back to our team. He has improved each year of his career and continues to get better,” Ferry said. “At 25, he’s already been a key contributor on a playoff team and we look forward to seeing him develop into even more of a leader on our team.”"
There isn’t anything particularly revolutionary in there, but I agree with the sentiment. Going with Jennings would have been the “upside” move for Atlanta, but it was unlikely that they could’ve gotten him for $8 million annually, and his efficiency is less than desirable.
Teague made some minor waves with various comments about not wanting the Hawks to match the offer sheet, but basically, that is par for the course in restricted free agency. He has never been a character concern in the past, and while there is genuine wonder about his on-floor leadership, I believe that one conversation with Ferry and Budenholzer should reign Teague in for the future.
This is a successful day for the Hawks franchise because, if for no other reason, the roster has a semblance of normalcy. It is completely reasonable to expect Teague to replicate his production from last season (at minimum), and there is a possibility of growth for him. He will never be a top-10 NBA point guard, but that’s not necessarily a knock, and for $8 million per season, the value is there.
Welcome back, Jeff.