Jeff Teague is a free agent for the time since 2017. The 32-year-old point guard began the 2019-20 campaign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, before being traded midseason to the Atlanta Hawks. It marked Teague’s second go-around in Atlanta, having spent the first seven seasons of his career with the franchise. Teague, the No. 19 overall selection of the 2009 NBA Draft, made an All-Star appearance with the Hawks in 2015. However, he served in a reserve role during his second stint with Atlanta.
Entering his 12th NBA season, Teague is likely looking to join a contender. The Hawks are rebuilding through a young nucleus featuring Trae Young and John Collins. At the moment, they are nowhere near contention.
Playoff-ready teams are expected to reach out to the veteran point guard. Which teams will pursue the one-time All-Star? Here are three potential destinations for Teague.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
After a disappointing season which ended with a sweep at the hands of the rival Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers need to make changes. They fired head coach Brett Brown and replaced him with Doc Rivers. But how can the cap-strapped Sixers—who have four players combining for over $100 million on next season’s payroll—improve their roster?
The Sixers can’t make any drastic changes without pulling off a trade, but they can add veteran free agents on the cheap. They will have to sell those free agents on the idea that they are closer to contention than what they appear. Their first sales pitch should go to Teague.
All-Star Ben Simmons will continue to spearhead the offense as the floor general. Shake Milton began the year on the bench as the backup point guard, but he eventually entered the starting five after it became clear he played best in his natural position, shooting guard. Milton mustered just 2.6 assists this season, showing that ball distribution is not his strength. The Sixers, thus, need a ball handler off the bench with playmaking abilities.
Teague could be a perfect fit in Philadelphia. Even in a down season in which he played just 24.8 minutes per contest, Teague averaged 5.8 assists last year in 59 games combined between the Timberwolves and Hawks. Teague can orchestrate the offense for the reserves, and play alongside Simmons when called upon.
The Sixers also need floor spacing. Jeff Teague, a career 35.6 percent shooter from 3-point land in his career, offers a decent option from the outside. For a team in need of a playmaker with solid (albeit not spectacular) shooting skills, Teague fits the mold for Philadelphia.
2. Boston Celtics
The 2020 NBA playoffs exposed the Boston Celtics’ lack of depth. Throughout the entire season, Marcus Smart was the only ultra-reliable guy off the bench. When Gordon Hayward got hurt (again) in the postseason, Smart was forced into the starting unit. This made Brad Wanamaker the team’s unofficial sixth man.
Even as the first player off the bench, Wanamaker played only 16.1 minutes per game. Wanamaker, an impending free agent, held his own relative to expectations, but he not should one of the primary players head coach Brad Stevens looks to when needing to sub out a starter in a postseason contest.
Enhancing the bench should be general manager Danny Ainge’s foremost offseason goal. Specifically, the Celtics need scoring from the second unit, something Jeff Teague can provide. He registered 10.9 points per contest a season ago, shooting 43.6 percent from the field, 36.8 percent on 3s and 87.3 percent on free throws.
Teague’s minutes would certainly decrease if he were to join the Celtics, particularly come playoff time. But for someone looking to reach his first NBA Finals, it may be worth it to sacrifice playing time in favor of winning at the highest level. The Celtics are a true threat to win the championship next season, a fact that will not be lost on Teague when making his decision in free agency.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will look to add a point guard to the roster, especially if Rajon Rondo decides to leave in free agency, as expected.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Lakers will have Teague on their wish list this offseason.
Lakers potential free agency targets this offseason include:
– Jeff Teague
– DJ Augustin
– Jordan Clarkson
– Maurice Harkless
– Nerlens Noel
— Top Ball Coverage (@TopBallCoverage) October 19, 2020
Teague can fill the role that Rondo shined in last year, steering the point guard duties off the bench. He could also play his way into the starting lineup if the Lakers prefer to have a traditional point guard in the starting lineup, rather than continue to use reigning Finals MVP LeBron James as the de facto point forward.
The Lakers were not the deepest of title-winning teams, to say the least, and Rondo’s departure would prove costly if an adequate replacement is not found. Grabbing Jeff Teague while he is on the open market would be huge get for the Lakers, who will have plenty of low-cost veteran free agents to choose from after cruising to the NBA championship.