Jeff Teague Knows This Could Be the Final Ride for These Atlanta Hawks – Bleacher Report

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BOSTON — Jeff Teague has spent his entire seven-year NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks, but as recently as two months ago, it wasn’t clear the point guard was still wanted in Atlanta. 

The 27-year-old’s name constantly popped up in trade rumors ahead of February’s trade deadline, as the Atlanta front office considered disassembling vital parts of the team’s current core, despite the fact Teague had helped the Hawks continue a run of nine consecutive trips to the postseason. Selling high on Teague, in his prime and on a friendly contract ($8 million per year through the 2016-17 season),was one potential option with Dennis Schroder, 22, waiting in the wings.  

Ultimately, Atlanta elected to stand pat, holding onto Teague and soon-to-be free agent Al Horford for at least one more playoff run. Since then, the Hawks have been rolling, closing the season out with a 17-7 record, largely thanks to Teague’s improved play.

The veteran averaged 16.8 points and 6.9 assists per game after the All-Star break, and the team’s net rating was a sensational plus-12.5 with him on the floor since Feb. 26, per’s John Schuhmann. During Atlanta’s first-round series against the Boston Celtics, he has led the Hawks in both scoring (19.7 ppg) and assists (7.7 apg) over the first three games. 

Bleacher Report caught up with Teague before Sunday’s pivotal Game 4 in Boston to discuss his recent resurgence, how he handled the trade rumors and whether this could be Atlanta’s final chance at a playoff run with this core.   


Bleacher Report: You guys won 60 games last season and closed out this year with a 17-7 stretch and the best defense in the Eastern Conference. Yet, Atlanta is rarely mentioned. What gives?

David Goldman/Associated Press

Jeff Teague: It’s been like that ever since I’ve been in Atlanta. We’ve always had talented teams here that get overlooked. We just have a good group here. We don’t care about recognition or anything. We just kind of want to play well together and make a run at this thing. 


B/R: Currently, you’re in a tough first-round fight with the Boston Celtics. How much did the talent level in Boston and other places in the East improve this season?

Teague: It seems like everyone made an upgrade in the summer to get some better players. The coaching, and the way the game is being played is a lot different now. The East is becoming a whole better situation I guess. The West still has some real powerhouse teams, but the East has a lot of capable teams. 


B/R:The defense has taken a big step forward this year, while the offense has taken a step back. What has caused the shift? 

Teague: If we could combine our offense from last year and our defense from this year, we’d be a championship team, right? Our defense is great. Guys are into pressure, guys are being active, guys are being in the right spots at the right time. That’s what it’s been taking for us to get wins. 


B/R: Your name was brought up in trade rumors repeatedly before the trade deadline, and the same goes for Al Horford. How much did that affect you, if at all?

Teague: It bothered me for a little bit because I was hurt. My ankle was all jacked up at that time, and I wasn’t playing really well, so it kind of felt like, ‘Maybe they don’t want me no more’ situation. It’s part of the business, man. Now I’m feeling healthy, I’m playing a lot better.


B/R:Was it flattering at all to hear your name in rumors, or does it just hurt from a pride standpoint with your own team? 

David Goldman/Associated Press

Teague: It could go either way. Sometimes you can be like, ‘well, at least someone wants me.’ Then you can be like, ‘well this team doesn’t want me anymore.’ I always take it as ‘whatever happens, happens.’ My opportunity in being here; I just try to make the most of it while I can.


B/R: So it was the ankle that was the root of your first-half struggles?

Teague: Yeah, I rolled my ankle pretty severely. I tried to come back too soon because we went through a little slump. I think we lost three or four in a row. I was out, and I wanted to do what I could to help our team get back. I was like at 70 percent, just trying to get out there and play, and couldn’t get right. Finally, after some treatment, exercise and doing things like that, my ankle got a lot better. I was able to make something happen. 


B/R: How much did the trade deadline passing help you guys come together as team?

Teague: I think we realized that we got a chance to do something special, man. You never know what can happen so just try to lock in and make it happen this year while we still together. You can’t look forward to next year and years down the line because you never know what can happen. 


B/R: Horford’s unrestricted free agency looms large this summer for the franchise. Has that created a special sense of urgency for the team now, knowing this could be your guys’ last crack at it together?

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Teague: We try not to talk about [rumors]. [Me and Horford] just go about business as usual. Me and him are really close. We’ve been around each other for awhile. Funny guy. Good guy. I love playing with him…Yeah, you have a chance to do something special now. When you do something special, people like to stick around. They like to keep groups together so we realize that. We’re going to try to do the best we can this year, and hopefully everything works out.      

Jeff Teague Knows This Could Be the Final Ride for These Atlanta Hawks – Bleacher Report