Jeff Teague says he doesn’t expect Atlanta to match the four-year, $32 million offer given to him by the Milwaukee Bucks — and even if they do, he’s moving in a new direction.
ATLANTA — Jeff Teague is ready to move on.
The Hawks point guard has been disillusioned with his contract situation and said he hasn't felt wanted by the team's front office. When the Bucks called with an offer sheet and encouraging words, Teague jumped at the chance to sign it.
Teague signed a four-year, $32 million offer sheet from the Bucks in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. The Hawks have three days to match the offer or he will be re-united with former coach Larry Drew and center Zaza Pachulia.
“It was a perfect situation for me, being familiar with the (Bucks) coaching staff and talking to them on the phone,” Teague said. “They embraced me and they wanted me. They told me that. That is something I never really heard (in Atlanta). Once somebody said they actually wanted me to be a part of their future I'm all for it.
“I don't think I really got too familiar with everybody once there was the switch in the front office. I don't think we really built the relationship that we could have.”
Teague, 25, was the Hawks' third leading scorer with a career-high 14.6 points per game last season, behind Josh Smith and Al Horford. In his second year as a starter, he led the team with 7.2 assists per game, 12th in the NBA. He also averaged 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.9 turnovers in 80 games. Teague averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 assists in the six-game first-round playoff series loss to the Pacers.
Hawks GM Danny Ferry did not indicate if the Hawks would match the offer.
“As we have consistently said, we value Jeff,” Ferry said. “We are in the process of putting together what we believe is a strong foundation for this team and will make the best decision moving forward for our organization."
Teague said he doesn't expect the Hawks to match the offer and believes the team is ready to move forward without him.
He grew frustrated that the Hawks were not able to able or willing to work out a sign-and-trade deal.
"It's a tough process," Teague said. "When I got that vibe from Milwaukee, it was a feeling I hadn't had in a while. It was like I was being recruited from high school. I wanted to be a part of that."
Because Teague now has a signed offer sheet, the Hawks cannot do a sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks involving him. Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, also a restricted free agent, is seeking a new contract. Jennings would likely hit the open market by having his qualifying offer pulled should the Bucks get Teague. Jennings is reportedly seeking a deal worth $12 million and would be an unlikely acquisition for the Hawks at that price.
If the Hawks decide to let Teague leave, they currently have Shelvin Mack on the roster at point guard. They drafted 19-year-old Dennis Schroeder out of Germany last month. Lou Williams, recovering from a torn ACL, is also a possibility at the position. The Hawks could also sign a veteran, such as Mo Williams, as a short-term solution.
Contentious negotiations are not uncommon at this time of the NBA calendar. Last year, Hornets guard Eric Gordon signed an offer sheet with the Suns and stated publically he hoped it would not be matched. The Hornets did match the offer and Gordon averaged 17.0 points in 42 games.
The Hawks selected Teague in the first round (No. 19 overall) of the 2009 NBA draft out of Wake Forest. He became a starter two years ago and his statistics improved each season.
With the Bucks, Teague would also be reunited with Nick Van Exel. The former NBA point guard worked extensively with Teague in Atlanta before joining Drew's staff in Milwaukee. That was another selling point for Teague.
Teague said he would not leave Atlanta with bitter feelings.
"I had a great time," Teague said. "I had great teammates, coaches. I enjoyed every minute of it. I love the city. The fans were always great to me. It will always be a special place to me. I was drafted by the organization. I enjoyed it. We always went to the playoffs. It was always big. I enjoyed by time there. They are going in a different direction. I'm going in a different direction. It's time to move on."
The clock is ticking on another of the many offseason decisions facing the Hawks.