Making Sense of the Jeff Teague Rumors


The Knicks are in the market for a point guard upgrade. Jeff Teague is available. Should the Knicks make a move on Teague? Do they have the assets?

The New York Knicks have been looking for a point guard for the longest. It’s the reason we’ve heard Tony Wroten signing rumors (do it, Knicks), the possible Brandon Jennings trade talk and the expectations of them being on Mike Conley’s doorstep at 12:01 am at the start of 2016-17 free agency. New York has many other pieces, but a point guard is the biggest need for the Knicks at this moment.

Well, here come the Atlanta Hawks calling. With Jeff Teague a pending free agent after next season and Dennis Schroder reaching the end of his rookie contract, rumors are running rampant that the Hawks will look to move the more experienced Teague, and thus, giving Schroder the starting job. Ian Begley of ESPN New York suggested that the Knicks were one of the teams interested in swinging a trade for the seven-year veteran.

From a basketball standpoint, Teague makes sense. He’s surprisingly young, just 27 years old and brings the small things needed at the point guard position. He’s never been an elite playmaker, but always a solid playmaker and scorer. Since Teague ascended into a starter’s role for Atlanta, he’s been around 14 points per game and six assists per game with a three ball that waivers.

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The one thing needed from a Knicks point guard is someone who can drive. I wrote before about the need of a slasher in New York’s offense and Teague would do just that. Teague is in the top five in drafts at 10.8 per game, shooting 41.0% from them. He’s also sixth in the league at 3.8 passes out of drives per game. The ability to drive and kick to shooters helps the like of Kristaps Porzingis, Arron Afflalo, Lance Thomas, hell, even Carmelo Anthony would benefit from having someone remove the ball from his hand and make his shots easier. 

And the Knicks would have an interesting core of guys to work with. Teague, Anthony, Porzingis would be a solid three to work with, and with Phil Jackson’s ability to find other, smaller pieces, the Knicks could find the right players (3-and-D wings, another big to protect the rim, etc) to help that group make the playoffs and make long runs heading into May and June.

Now, some of the downside, or things the Knicks should consider with these Teague rumors.

The first is: Do you want to pay the next Teague contract if you’re New York? Teague has never been an efficient player for most of his career, teetering around the average 54.0% true shooting metric. He’s a smaller point guard, too. His bounce hides the fact he’s only six-foot-two and he isn’t a great defensive guard, only good. As those skills erode, his next contract – somewhere between $13-$16 million – could be a detriment.

Also, what are the Knicks giving up in a trade? The Knicks don’t have a first-round pick this year, so they can’t move their 2017 first rounder until after the 2016 NBA draft. They don’t have that one asset to make a move either.

The Hawks had Jerian Grant and moved him to New York. Langston Galloway is interesting, but he’s good, not great return. Porzingis is a no and the Hawks already have enough big men. The player + pick combination isn’t strong for New York in this case, although, when you see what Goran Dragic got traded for, you, at least, make an offer.

Apropos of nothing, Russell Westbrook is a free agent in 2017. I think the Knicks should gear towards that, rather than signing Teague. Right now, the Knicks would have a decent core of guys plus good draft pick status (all of their picks moving forward) to entice a Westbrook. I would lean towards establishing the roster, hoping Carmelo remains Melo and Porzingis continues to improve and hope to entice Westbrook in 2017, rather than giving up assets for Teague.

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In short, the Knicks could use someone to play point guard, and Teague makes sense, but I don’t know if the Knicks can acquire him and at this current state in his game, he’s not the best option for the next two years. The Knicks moving multiple pieces and a draft pick for Teague, who will be a free agent in 2017, doesn’t make much sense, even though he helps them make the next step in 2016.

Next: Kevin Durant: A 'Blessing' to Play in New York

What that step is? I have no clue.