The Hawks acquired old friend Jeff Teague from the Timberwolves on Thursday in exchange for Allen Crabbe. Atlanta also received Treveon Graham in the deal.
Teague, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Hawks, had struggled to mesh with Minnesota’s style of play. He is on an expiring contract. Crabbe gives the Timberwolves a catch-and-shoot player who can play off Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. He, too, is on an expiring contract.
While the trade between non-contenders might not have an immediate impact on the playoff race, subsequent moves may be consequential.
MORE: Hawks reportedly out of Drummond talks
Here’s a look at what the trade means for Atlanta, Minnesota and the rest of the NBA:
Will the Hawks flip Jeff Teague to the Lakers?
Teague is a respected, veteran point guard who will be a free agent at the conclusion of the season, so it’s possible a contender in need of backcourt depth would inquire about the 31-year-old. The Lakers have been the most public seeker, but others fit the bill, too.
Atlanta does not seem interested in moving Teague, though. Second-year point guard Trae Young has been pushed to his physical limits because of the team’s lack of reliable backups. Coach Lloyd Pierce even checked Young into the fourth quarter of a Nov. 30 game against the Rockets with the Hawks down 127-73 and left him on the floor for seven minutes. Teague should provide a comfortable alternative to Young and (Hawks fans hope) prevent Young from breaking down late in the campaign.
General manager Travis Schlenk told The Athletic on Thursday that he would like to re-sign Teague if Teague shows himself to be a fit behind Young.
“That was one of the areas going into the summer that we knew we were going to have to address is point guard,” Schlenk said to The Athletic. “This is a great opportunity to have a dress rehearsal to see how it goes. We are hopeful. We think Jeff has a lot of good basketball left in him. We’re going to see how it goes, but in a perfect world, it would be a great scenario.”
The Lakers (and other possible interested parties), then, will probably need to look elsewhere for the depth they desire.
What does Jeff Teague still have in the tank?
Teague was never known as a very good defender, and that aspect of his game has seemed to decline as he has dealt with injuries in recent years.
When he has the ball in his hands, though, he continues to have value. He’s shooting 37.9 percent from beyond the arc — better than his career average — and sporting his best true shooting percentage (57.8 percent). He does not damage floor spacing. He is capable in the pick-and-roll and could pair nicely with bouncy forward John Collins.
What might be the biggest question for Teague is whether he can be a mature leader who assists in the development in younger teammates rather than undercut them. He has engaged in locker room controversies before, and the Hawks will no doubt be tracking how he gets along with Young, Collins and Kevin Huerter in the coming months as part of their decision-making in future contract talks.
Why would the Timberwolves get rid of Jeff Teague?
For all of the good things Teague does, he did not always seem like the best fit for the Timberwolves next to Wiggins and Towns. While Towns is injured right now, the 15-25 team obviously felt the need for a shake-up. If Crabbe, who played a shade over 18 minutes per game in Atlanta, does not produce as hoped and Towns does not return soon, then improved draft positioning would be a consolation for the organization.
Who might the Timberwolves trade next?
Robert Covington’s name continues to be linked to several teams given the forward’s defensive ability and outside shooting. Covington came to Minnesota when it sent Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia last season. While the Teague trade is being billed as the first of several moves, The Athletic reports the team is comfortable holding onto Covington until the summer if it doesn’t receive acceptable offers.
Are the Timberwolves serious suitors for D’Angelo Russell?
Minnesota appears to be super serious about acquiring Russell, who joined Golden State last summer. Trading Teague could be viewed as opening a spot for Russell.
Just because the Timberwolves want Russell, however, doesn’t mean they’ll get him. The Warriors have been steadfast in saying they will hold onto Russell until the summer. At this point, then, the idea Golden State would move the 23-year-old appears to be nothing more than hopeful speculation from the Minnesota camp.