Jeff Teague

Northwest Notes: Teague, Butler, Shabazz, Millsap

If the Timberwolves want to continue their winning ways while All-Star Jimmy Butler is sidelined, point guard Jeff Teague must continue to play with pace and aggression, opines Britt Robson of The Athletic Minnesota.

Despite an apparent tendency and preference to let his teammates get involved as playmakers, Teague no longer has that luxury, at least for the time being, with Butler out of the equation. Teague must also continue to push the pace of play, as he has done in the team’s last two games.

In fact, in the team’s first full game since Butler’s injury, Minnesota launched a season-high 35 three pointers, primarily a product of Teague’s ability to  get into the half-court offense quickly, beat defenders off the dribble, and present a viable threat to score at the rim or kick it out to the perimeter for a shot or extra pass.

As head coach Tom Thibodeau described, “We have to make sure we get to the right spots so we can get that pass out. And once you get that pass out, usually the second pass will get you a great shot.” 

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves‘ reserve guard Shabazz Muhammad is not likely to be bought out after all, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. When asked about the possibility, Thibodeau simply said, “Nope, we like the team we have.”
  • In a piece for The Athletic Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski details Butler’s decision to have surgery on his damaged right meniscus. Fortunately for Butler and the Timberwolves, the procedure was neither a major repair nor a removal, and the hope is that he will be able to return to action without facing some of the long-term risks involved with removal.
  • With last night’s loss to the Clippers, the Nuggets have fallen to ninth place in the Western Conference, percentage points behind the Clippers, who now also own the the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two teams. Part of the problem recently is Denver’s defense, reports Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone is particularly frustrated, saying the recent struggles defensively have left him “questioning (his) whole being as a coach.”
  • In brighter news for the Nuggets, forward Paul Millsap played last night for the first time since he injured his left wrist on Nov. 19.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Thunder, Teague, Wolves

The Jazz‘s decision to trade Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson in deadline deals last week signaled that neither of those players was part of Utah’s plans going forward. Still, there were no hard feelings in either case, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News details. Speaking last week about the two veteran wings, general manager Dennis Lindsey said Johnson had become a “folk hero around here,” and added that the team has “great respect” for Hood.

“I told Rodney that I hope I see a playoff game on ABC where Rodney Hood hits a game-winning shot,” said the Jazz GM. “That would tickle me. So we’re rooting for him, we care about him and we wish him the best and we thank him for not only the efforts that he gave us the last four years but the player that he was able to return to us in Jae Crowder.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • The Thunder have yet to establish a permanent starting five since Andre Roberson went down with his season-ending knee injury last month, and it sounds like the lineup tinkering will continue, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. “I don’t want to say it’s going to be different night to night,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “But yeah, it could change in certain situations based on what’s best for our team.”
  • With so many scorers on the Timberwolves‘ roster, Jeff Teague has found himself playing a facilitator role more often this season after signing with the team last summer. The veteran point guard, whose 12.7 PPG is his lowest mark in six years, admits that new approach has taken some getting used to. “It’s just not how I play,” said Teague, per Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “But someone has to make a sacrifice, and it was me.”
  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune identifies five veteran free agents or buyout candidates who could be of interest to the Timberwolves.

Northwest Notes: T. Jones, Mitchell, Jefferson, Huestis

Timberwolves point guard Tyus Jones played well when Jeff Teague was sidelined with a sprained knee ligament, but there’s no thought about making him the starter, relays Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Jones ranks in the top five in the league in assists and steals per turnover and is number one in defensive real plus-minus. Still, coach Tom Thibodeau trusts Teague, who was one of Minnesota’s prize offseason additions, and won’t consider a change.

“Jeff has been around a long time, and Jeff has done a lot of winning,” Thibodeau said. “That’s probably the most important thing.”

There’s more today from the Northwest Division:

  • Rookie guard Donovan Mitchell has become the MVP for the Jazz in a difficult season, according to Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. The 13th overall pick is leading all rookies in scoring at 18.8 points per game and has four 30-point performances already. Utah was focused primarily on Mitchell’s defensive prowess when it acquired him in a draft-night trade with the Nuggets, so the scoring has been a pleasant surprise. In his other midseason ratings, Sorensen picks Ricky Rubio as the team’s most disappointing player and Royce O’Neale as the most pleasant surprise.
  • The Nuggets plan to use veteran forward Richard Jefferson as part of their rotation for the rest of the season, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Coach Michael Malone said he wants to see “what we have” in the 37-year-old, who has been playing about eight minutes per night and is averaging 1.6 points through 13 games.
  • After spending most of his first two seasons in the G League, Josh Huestis may have found a role with the Thunder, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Terrance Ferguson has taken over as the starting shooting guard with Andre Roberson injured, but coach Billy Donovan has turned to Huestis as a late-game defensive stopper. Huestis, who played just seven combined NBA games during his first two years in the league, is enjoying the opportunity. “It comes down to defense,” he said.

Jeff Teague Out Indefinitely With Sprained Left Knee

5:40pm: The team is hopeful that Teague will return in 2-4 weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

DECEMBER 28th, 1:38pm: Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague injured his left knee chasing a loose ball in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets and will be out indefinitely, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Teague underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage but he was diagnosed with a sprained left knee, per Wojnarowski.

Teague, 29, has been solid for Minnesota in the first season of a three-year, $55MM pact he signed in the offseason. Through 31 games, Teague has averaged 13.4 PPG and 7.8 APG. In Teague’s absence, the Wolves are likely to rely on backup Tyus Jones to fill in a point guard, Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune writes.

“As always, it’s whatever the team needs me to do,’’ Jones said on Wednesday after Minnesota’s overtime victory. “I’m hoping Jeff is all right. You never want to see anyone go out with an injury. But it’s the next man up. I’m ready to help this team in any way.’’

Jones, 21, filled in for Teague earlier this season and has played well in 35 games, averaging 4.1 PPG and 2.6 APG. The Wolves also figure to rely more on Aaron BrooksJamal Crawford, and Jimmy Butler to handle guard responsibilities in Teague’s absence.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving‘s request to be traded is the latest story to rock the league during an eventful offseason. The news broke Friday, but Irving’s meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took place about two weeks ago, according to Terry Pluto of

The Cavs tried to keep it quiet so they could work on a deal without the distractions that are starting to happen now. Apparently some players learned about the news and started talking, which is how the trade request became public.

Pluto also speculates that Irving’s demand validates rumors last month that former Bulls star Jimmy Butler was warned by Cavaliers players not to push for a trade to Cleveland. They have a close friendship, so Irving may have told Butler that he was planning to leave the team. Butler was subsequently traded to the Timberwolves, one of the teams Irving included on his list of preferred destinations, along with the Spurs, Knicks and Heat.

There’s more today on the Irving trade front:

  • The Wolves have a strong interest in acquiring Irving, even though they just signed former Pacers point guard Jeff Teague, Pluto adds in the same story. Pluto believes the Cavs should ask for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Cavs made the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2014, as part of the deal. Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are untouchable, but Wiggins will be a free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before the October deadline.
  • The Knicks have offered Carmelo Anthony and a parcel of draft picks, adds Pluto, who says Cleveland should insist on Kristaps Porzingis. Other teams that have expressed interest include Sacramento, with rookie De’Aaron Fox as part of the offer, and Phoenix, with a package centered around Eric Bledsoe.
  • Pluto also notes that a trade would take away Irving’s opportunity to sign a super-max extension like the one John Wall just agreed to with the Wizards. The move could cost Irving between $50MM and $70MM.
  • Butler and Towns have done some recruiting work with Irving and have made it clear to Wolves management they would like to acquire him, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who first broke the story of Irving’s trade request. Windhorst believes Teague would likely be included in any Minnesota-Cleveland deal and notes that as a newly signed free agent he can’t be traded until December 15th.
  • The Spurs would be Irving’s first choice if he could pick a team, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.
  • The Cavaliers had a deal on the table involving Irving before the draft, according to Joe Vardon of The trade was put together by former GM David Griffin, but the Cavaliers didn’t pull the trigger because they didn’t know that Irving wanted to leave.

Free Agent Rumors: Dedmon, Teague, Timberwolves, Heat

The Hawks are interested in free agent center Dewayne Dedmon, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets. They are also looking at Willie Reed, Scotto passes along in the same tweet via Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Nets and Celtics have also been mentioned as possibilities for Dedmon, who played for the Spurs last season. Reed, who played for the Heat last season, met with the Clippers on Friday and has drawn interest from several other clubs.

In other developments involving free agency:

  • The Kings and Nuggets along with his former team, the Pacers, were interested in Jeff Teague before he signed with the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV tweets via his colleague Joe Schmit. The Kings wound up signing point guard George Hill, while the Nuggets spent most of their free agent money on power forward Paul Millsap. Teague signed a three-year, $57MM deal with Minnesota.
  • Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau is still shopping for two wings and a point guard to upgrade their bench, Wolfson notes in a separate tweet. However, Thibodeau has likely filled one of those wing spots with Jamal Crawford, who agreed to a two-year contract after negotiating a buyout agreement with the Hawks and being placed on waivers. Crawford has cleared waivers and is expected to sign sometime this week, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets.
  • The Heat are in discussions with forwards Luke Babbitt and Udonis Haslem, according to an Associated Press report. Those deals, if completed, would likely be veteran minimum, the report adds. Babbitt appeared in 68 games, including 55 starts, for the injury-depleted Heat last season. Haslem saw action in just 16 games.

Timberwolves Sign Jeff Teague

"<strongJULY 10: The Timberwolves have officially signed Teague, the team announced today.

JUNE 30: The Timberwolves and unrestricted free agent Jeff Teague have agreed to a deal, per Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (via Twitter). It will be a three-year, $57MM deal, per the scribe. The final year is reportedly a player option.

The addition of Teague will continue an extremely busy offseason for Minnesota, with the team having already acquired star swingman Jimmy Butler from the Bulls earlier this week. The Wolves were in desperate need of a point guard, having shipped away Ricky Rubio (Jazz) and Kris Dunn (Bulls) in separate trades.

In 82 contests last season for the Pacers, Teague averaged 15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists. His career marks are 12.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG and 5.5 APG to go along with a shooting line of .447/.355/.844.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: George, Patterson, Gobert

Make no mistake, Oklahoma City’s one mission this season is to convince Paul George to remain with the Thunder once he hits free agency next summer. But what, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman asks, does the All-Star forward want?

George and his representation have been nothing if not forthright about the 27-year-old’s desire to sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 but he still has a season under contract and a fresh, new change of scenery to enjoy with the Thunder until that time comes.

If George truly wants to play for a winner, the Thunder have a legitimate chance of positioning themselves as the better option than the Lakers, Horne writes. Oklahoma City has, after all, been competitive for the past five years while the Lakers have toiled in mediocrity.

The question is whether playing for a winner will ever actually trump George’s desire to return to his home state.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The move to sign Patrick Patterson will help the Thunder on the defensive end, the forward’s former coach Kevin McHale told The Oklahoman. He says Patterson is the type of player that excels at all the little parts of the game.
  • With Gordon Hayward on his way to the Celtics, it’s become clear that Rudy Gobert may have been the leader of the Jazz all along, Brad Rock of The Deseret News writes. The big man has long been more charismatic and vocal than his Beantown-bound counterpart.
  • The move that sent Avery Bradley from the Celtics to the Pistons has all but extinguished any hopes the Jazz had of pulling off a sign-and-trade connected to Gordon Hayward’s move to Boston, Jody Genessey of The Deseret News writes.
  • The Timberwolves saw an opportunity and seized it this offseason, bringing Jeff Teague into the fold at the expense of long-time point guard Ricky Rubio. “Ricky did a good job here; we’re happy for him,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the media, including Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “We wish him well. He made a number of contributions to our team, our organization and community and we certainly appreciate that. For us where we are now, we have to get out of this hole and we felt we had an opportunity to improve our team, and that’s why we did what we did.”
  • An additional benefit the Timberwolves will enjoy after bringing Jimmy Butler aboard will be his contributions as a recruiter, Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago writes.
  • No team in the NBA shot worse when wide open beyond the arc than the Thunder did last season, that should change after the club welcomes Paul George and Patrick Patterson to its lineup, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes.

Knicks Believe Teague Has Committed To Wolves

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, at least one front office believes Jeff Teague is so committed to the Timberwolves that it’s not worth pursuing a meeting. It’s been said that the Knicks have abandoned the idea of sitting down with the Pacers free agent altogether.

We wrote earlier about how Sam Amick of USA Today called Teague Minnesota’s “heavy, heavy favorite” target. Since that time, Chad Hartman of WCCO in Minneapolis has already gone so far as to say that the team and the point guard have a three-year deal in mind (via Dan Cook of WCCO).

While teams and players can’t officially negotiate until midnight EST, there has already been much speculation about who the Wolves will target now that they’ve sent Ricky Rubio to the Jazz.

Wolves Target Teague Among Other PG Options

Immediately after trading Ricky Rubio to the Jazz for a first-round pick, the Timberwolves have made Jeff Teague their favorite target available, Sam Amick of USA Today writes.

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean the interest is mutual but there’s reason to believe that Minnesota has a pretty good idea of who their starting point guard will be in 2017/18.

Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN, the Timberwolves wouldn’t make the Rubio trade without knowing who their replacement would be. He speculates that it could be Kyle Lowry but notes that it would make more sense for the club to pursue Teague or George Hill.

If the decision did come between Teague and Lowry, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests that the 29-year-old Teague could have the upper hand over his 31-year-old counterpart with the flexibility to offer a shorter deal so that the Wolves could save money.

Another option that has been floated by Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports is Rajon Rondo. Mannix notes that T-Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau saw the best of Rondo during his stint with the Celtics.

As of now, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman notes, the only point guard on Minnesota’s roster is Tyus Jones