Atlanta Hawks: Is signing Milos Teodosic realistic?

Aug 12, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Serbia point guard Milos Teodosic (4) reacts during the game against United States in the preliminary round of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Serbia point guard Milos Teodosic (4) reacts during the game against United States in the preliminary round of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks had representatives at the EuroLeague Final Four last weekend. Could they have been scouting a certain Serbian point guard?

The Atlanta Hawks were one of five teams that sent scouts to the EuroLeague Final Four last weekend. It’s unclear who exactly they were scouting, but considering the hottest overseas prospect of the moment was there, many have thrown out his name as a possibility (though they could have been there for a number of reasons).

That man is Milos Teodosic. Teosdic coming to the NBA has been a possibility for several years now. Anytime Teodosic plays in an international competition NBA fans begin foaming at the mouth when imagining him playing for their favorite team. It’s easy to see why. Teodosic is an extremely fun player.

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I’ve jokingly called him the Serbian Steve Nash on Twitter and he’s my favorite non-NBA player. Heck, he might just be my favorite basketball player in general.

The comparison to Nash becomes understandable when you watch Teodosic play. He’s a creative passer with floppy hair. What’s not to love?

Teodosic currently plays for CSKA Moscow in Russia, and is coming off of a season in which his team finished in third place in EuroLeague.

In 29 EuroLeague games this season, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.8 assists per game on 44.4 percent shooting and 38.1 percent from three-point range.

Teodosic might one one of the best passers in the world. It’s as if he has eyes in the back of his head.

Most American basketball fans likely remember Teodosic from watching him during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Former US Men’s National Team head coach Mike Krzyzewski and US Women’s National Team star Diana Taurasi offered high praise of Teodosic’s game during those Olympic Games.

Quotes from Tom Withers at the Associated Press. 

"“As good of a player, and as good of a guard, as there is in Europe,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I love him. We’re friends.”“I’ve been watching him play for 10 years,” she said. “He’s one of my favorite players and I feel like no one has ever heard of him and he’s an unbelievable basketball player.”"

Teodosic led Serbia to the Gold Medal Game against the United States last summer, winning the silver medal. It was the third silver medal he’s won in international competition. He also won silver medals with Serbia at EuroBasket 2009 and the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Teodosic has played professionally since 2004, spending time with FMP Železnik, Borac Čačak, Olympiacos, and now CSKA Moscow. He was the EuroLeague MVP in 2010 while playing with Olympiacos.

Will Teodosic finally choose to make the jump to the NBA? He recently turned 30-years-old so it might be now or never. In a January interview with Mozzartsport, Teodosic stated his intent to play in the NBA.

"“2016 was my best year. I will go to the NBA for sure, but I still don’t know when, in which club and on what terms. We’ll see. CSKA Moscow certainly has an advantage in the negotiations of a new contract…I like to play and I don’t like to sit on the bench and I would not agree to any contract if I have to sit on the bench. This is my condition for going to the NBA.”"

His decision will likely come down to the same factors every free agent decision seems to come down to; money, fit, and playing time. David Pick has reported that Teodosic is looking for a three-year deal worth $25-30 million.

Given the depth at the point guard position in today’s NBA, Teodosic will likely look to be a high usage backup on a contending team. The San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz have been mentioned as potential fits. Of course, if a team like the Sacramento Kings offers him a lucrative contract to become their starting point guard that might be an offer too good to pass up.

Could the Denver Nuggets look to add Teodosic to the mix? A reunion with his Serbian teammate Nikola Jokic in Denver would bring some fun basketball to the Mile High City. Teodosic is a man with options.

Malcolm Delaney and Jose Calderon made up Atlanta’s backup point guard rotation by the end of the 2016-17 season. Both players showed flashes of being reliable backups, but the Hawks wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade if possible.

Can the Hawks afford that type of contract as they focus on re-signing Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr.? This breakdown of Atlanta’s salary cap issues at Peachtree Hoops reveals how difficult signing those two and a player of Teodosic’s caliber would be.

"Atlanta will have $68,969,035 on their cap sheet if they renounce all their exceptions, all their free agents, waive non-guaranteed contracts, stretch Dunleavy’s contract, and account for their five incomplete roster charges. If the salary cap is at $101 million, the team is looking at about $32 million in cap space. That is not enough cap space for a max level player of 10+ years of experience. The team would need to move other contracts to create cap space.Now, you can start taking the above value and start adding back in free agents. Want to assume the team keeps Millsap? Well toss his cap hold back in ($30,108,050), take away one of the roster charges (-$815,615), and you’ll see that the team would be looking at $98,261,470 on their cap sheet. You might think that this would be about $3 million in cap space but it’s not. Because under this scenario, the team would not have renounced their MLE or BAE. So in other words, there is absolutely no chance the team can have cap space and resign Millsap with the currently constructed roster."

If the Hawks bring back Paul Millsap, they just don’t have the money to outbid the multitude of teams that will likely be interested in signing Teodosic. It’s unclear if they’re even interested in him, given the secrecy around their free agency decisions and their ongoing search for a new general manager. He would be a great fit in Atlanta, giving them an established veteran to backup Dennis Schroder.

Next: Justin Jackson a THJ replacement?

Sometimes the fit is right, but the money isn’t.