The Atlanta Hawks are certainly in a precarious situation resulting from Jeff Teague signing a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to play for the Milwaukee Bucks next season. The news was first announced by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Atlanta has until Saturday night to either match Milwaukee’s offer on Teague or try to maneuver another transaction. If they do decide to match the offer it will heavily restrict what they are able to do with Teague thereafter. They won’t be able to trade him for the first three months of his new contract and won’t be able to trade him to Milwaukee for a full year.
It all boils down to a couple of hypothetical scenarios that the Hawks could engage in, which we break down here:
1. Let Teague Walk for Nothing
If the Hawks let Teague walk straight up while getting nothing in return, they would likely start Dennis Schroeder from day one. This certainly isn’t a bad option- as Schroeder would get such valuable experience from starting at such a young age and the Hawks would likely end up with a much better draft pick than if Jeff Teague where at the helm.
2. Let Teague Walk; Bring in Brandon Jennings
The Hawks could work out a sign-and-trade deal with Milwaukee or just sign Jennings outright to play for the team. Jennings is a significant upgrade to Teague in terms of his leadership abilities alone and he has displayed a willingness to take the big shots that Teague has not. He is younger than Teague, has better statistics and he is likely looking for a contract around the same length as Teague. This would be a very nice fit for the team.
3. Let Teague Walk; Bring in Monta Ellis
It seems likely that the Hawks will snag one of Milwaukee’s two star guards if they were to give up the rights to Jeff Teague, and new coach Mike Budenholzer is very fond of Monta Ellis. You might not expect a longtime member of the Spurs organization to ever be interested in a play like Ellis who takes far too many shots and doesn’t seem to make his teammates better, but he likens Ellis’ talent to that of Tony Parker. Ellis certainly seems like a boom/bust candidate, so take the conservative Budenholzer with a grain of salt on that one.
4. Match Teague’s Offer Sheet
This really seems like this is the least viable of all the options outlined. Teague has recently expressed a disinterest in staying in Atlanta, and the Hawks should be unwilling to give Teague the salary of a player like Ty Lawson, which they would need to do.
Teague simply has not shown the type of leadership or growth over the past couple seasons that the Hawks really would need to see to re-sign him. He often deferred the spotlight to the likes of Smith and Horford at crucial times last season, which is simply not okay for a ‘franchise’ point guard to do. It would not be surprising to see the Hawks simply let Teague walk, however it would be nice to see him replaced by one of the Bucks very capable guards.