The Minnesota Timberwolves have a new point guard, it appears.
Jeff Teague and the Timberwolves will agree on a three year, $57 million contract once the free agency period begins. That is an average of just over $18M per season, though the exact breakdown is unknown. That is nearly $4M more than Ricky Rubio was slated to make this season.
Teague, 29, figures to slot in as the starting point guard in Minnesota’s new-look starting lineup. He averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 assists in 32.4 minutes per game with Indiana last season, and was one of only five players last season to average 15 points and seven assists with a true shooting percentage of .550 or better.
The former All-Star will provide a perimeter threat at the point guard position that now former Timberwolf Ricky Rubio was unable to consistently. Teague is a career 35.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and is only one season removed from a 40 percent season from three-point range. He is not a prolific shooter in terms of attempts, however.
Teague also brings a better shooting clip around the rim than Rubio. According to basketball-reference.com, Teague converted on 55.2 percent of his shot attempts around the rim, seven percentage points higher than Rubio’s clip in 2016-17.
Simply, Teague is a clear upgrade over Rubio from a scoring standpoint. He is able to space the floor and give Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins more room to operate.
But outside of that, there’s not a whole lot to like about Minnesota’s point guard flip.
Rubio, at just over $14 million, would have brought stronger defense, rebounding, passing and free throw shooting than what Teague will bring. The Spanish Unicorn also was coming off a career-best season in which he averaged over 16 points and 10 assists per game after the All-Star break.
His ability to find his teammates at the right place and time was an essential ingredient to the offensive success the Timberwolves had last season. Teague does not possess near that level of vision or playmaking ability.
Additionally, it seems as if Tom Thibodeau and Co. adding yet another score-first player is a but redundant. Between Butler, Wiggins and Towns, Thibs already has three 20-plus points per game scorers to feed.
Teague’s contract also gives the Timberwolves less salary cap space to add a key bench contributor than they had with Rubio. Now, the potential addition of a PJ Tucker, Patrick Patterson, JaMychal Green, or even J.J. Redick is less likely, at the cost of a point guard who is no better than what they had when the day started.
Jeff Teague is not a bad point guard by any stretch of the imagination. He is certainly starting-caliber, and brings many positive things to the table.
But, to replace the value Rubio brought on top of his contract, Thibodeau had to make a better move than this.
Minnesota lacked three important things coming into the offseason — three-point shooting, defense, toughness and leadership. Rubio checked three of those boxes.
How many does Teague check?