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2013 NBA Free Agency: Jeff Teague and Atlanta's tough choices

Jeff Teague has signed an offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks and the answers of what to do aren't easy.

Kevin C. Cox

Alternate Headline: Blogger melts brain trying to live out a Being Danny Ferry scenario

First, the requisite Adrian Wojnarowski information bomb:

Then some confirmation from local Milwaukee talent

Followed by more Y! Sports twittering:

Now that Teague has signed the offer sheet from Milwaukee, the Hawks have three days to match.

If they decide to match, they will not be able to trade Teague in the first 3 months, can't trade him at all in the first year without Teague's permission, and can't trade him to Milwaukee at all for that first year.

Now, the question is.....will they match?

Option #1: Let Teague walk and start Dennis Schroeder from Day One.

We haven't gotten a great read, but the drafting of Dennis Schroeder might lend some insight. Schroeder, who turns 20 in September, will be playing in the summer league with the Hawks if he can get clearance from FIBA, which we believe he will in time to at least participate in some of the SL games in Las Vegas.

Remember that Tony Parker was a fresh faced 19 year old Frenchman when the Spurs tossed him out there to start 72 games his rookie year.

Hit the Basketball-Reference link and then look at that rookie year. It was a rough one, but it was a necessary learning year for Parker, who was fantastic after that and was in the All-Star game in 2006.

(Editor's note: I originally called out 2003 as Parker's first appearance due to an interview done with him there by me in Atlanta for that game, but it was the Rookie/Soph game -- Incidentally, if Schroeder took five years to make an all-star game, I'd take that, too. :-) Thanks to Benjing for the correction!)

Could the Hawks and Mike Budenholzer be wanting to do the same with Schroeder?

Option #2: Let Teague walk and bring in Brandon Jennings.

Jennings has something that Teague hasn't shown consistently in his time in Atlanta. Jennings has bravado, aggressiveness and leadership. He is also more efficient than you might think for a guy who as low a classic shooting percentage as he does.

He has the stones to run a playoff caliber roster and he doesn't back down from taking the big shots.

Jennings is also a restricted free agent, like Teague, and one wonders what the strategy would be in Milwaukee if Jennings signed an offer sheet, or maybe Brandon is waiting to see if Milwaukee gets Teague and then the team pulls his qualifying offer and makes him an unrestricted free agent. Jennings is also 23 years old, even younger than Teague.

Jennings is likely looking for a similar length contract as Teague, four years, but more money, around the 11M per year Jrue Holiday got from the Sixers and 12M per Ty Lawson got from Denver.

Option #3: Let Teague walk and bring in Monta Ellis.

The least clear option of the bunch is the Hawks continued interest in Ellis, who has rarely shown to be the efficient type of player the Hawks seem to be collecting.

However, with so much efficiency, the Hawks do lack a volume shooter to create offense and Ellis certainly provide volume shooting.

Ellis might be able to be had for a shorter contract than Jennings and plays the off-guard, which would leave Schroeder there to play if that's part of the Hawks plan.

Ellis recently fired his representation and armed himself with Dan Fegan, which might mean Ellis isn't happy with the types of contracts he's been seeing considering he rejected a 2 year extension from Milwaukee which, with an opt-in year, made it a 3 year, 36 million dollar package.

Option #4: Match the offer sheet for Jeff Teague.

At a higher price I don't think this is even a conversation. If the bidding for Teague had taken the price up to the Lawson/Holiday range, I don't believe the Hawks would risk a four year deal on Teague.


Teague has not consistently shown the ability to lead on the floor, often deferring, first to Joe Johnson, then to Josh Smith. The point guard needs to be the one to dictate tone and pace, needs to be assertive at all times.

Often Teague was a bystander, an observer of the Hawks offense on the floor. Defensively he still takes many risks, falls back on trail steals and trail blocking and loses his man.

These combinations would often lead now-Bucks coach Larry Drew to bench Teague, especially in the fourth quarter, in favor of a veteran point guard he could trust to provide what was needed at the position.

But then there are the times when he is on and you see the efficiency and the playmaking. He is very, very hard for a defender to keep him in front when driving. His athleticism allows him some amazing highlight caliber dunks and blocks.

Still, at the highest levels of pay for current point guards, I believe the Hawks would pass.

But, at 8M per year, even over four years? The answer is not so clear.

They can have Teague run the point for another year under Budenholzer and see what Bud can do for Jeff. The remainder of the contract would not be so bad as to dissuade someone from taking him in trade this time next offseason.

Only a major injury could derail that, as his numbers have been very efficient and a year with at least Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Lou Williams, along with Kyle Korver and John Jenkins, would likely mean at least another solid season at the point.

I have shaken the Magic 8-ball many times on this one and the picture is still murky -- and I'll try again later. The value of the deal is such that you can't let it go for nothing.

But Danny Ferry and company are the only ones who can see to the end of free agency and beyond -- they know their roadmap and how to get there.

Maybe signing Teague would block their plans for Schroeder. Maybe the Hawks are going to go after another free agent with their current cap space, like Nikola Pekovic or Andrei Kirilenko. Maybe it's Jennings for the long term or Ellis for the short term.

It's not clear, it drives us crazy, but there they are.

GROUP QUESTION: Which option do you want the Hawks to choose?

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