NBA Sunday: Teague Motivated By Contract Snub
The deadline for members of the 2009 draft class to be extended was October 31. In the past week, there were numerous teams who reached agreements with their emerging talent as the deadline approached. At point guard, the Denver Nuggets committed four years and $48 million to Ty Lawson, the Golden State Warriors followed suit by signing Stephen Curry to a four-year, $44 million deal and the Philadelphia 76ers locked up Jrue Holiday to a four-year, $41 million extension.
One omission from the deadline frenzy was Atlanta Hawks starting point guard Jeff Teague.
The fourth year guard was admittedly disappointed a deal on an extension wasn’t reached and plans on using the contract snub as a motivational tool for the 2012-13 campaign.
“I mean we tried but you know it didn’t work out,” Teague told HOOPSWORLD. “[The numbers] didn’t match up. But you know it’s a little more motivation to go out there and try to prove to them that I deserve the things I was looking for and try to make the best of it.”
President of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry has consistently reiterated his expectation for Teague to assume a much larger role in the team’s framework this season, but it’s also no secret the club’s top priority is resolving the future of forward Josh Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Hawks have only $26 million in salary committed on the books for the 2014 season, which will give the team roughly $30 million in cap space for Ferry to continue reshaping the roster via trade opportunities or free agency.
The Hawks will most likely issue a qualifying offer to Teague ($3.5 million) before the start of free agency next summer, which will make the guard a restricted free agent and give the franchise the option to match any offer he receives.
While Teague is using the lack of an extension as motivation, he made it clear that the situation won’t turn into a distraction and that his first preference is to remain with the Hawks going forward.
“I don’t think about it,” Teague said of his impeding free agency. “I just play. Go out here and just try to do what my team needs me to do so we can get wins. When that time comes, it will come, but right now I’m just worrying about getting better every day as a Hawk.”
“I’m all about winning and whatever it takes to win,” Teague added. “Whichever way the organization wants to go, I’m all for it. I’m on board and I’m happy to be here.”
The Hawks enter the season with nine new faces in the lineup and with the new additions have implemented a faster paced offense, one Teague feels caters to his athleticism and speed.
“It is very exciting to get up and down the court,” Teague said. “We have athletic players, guys who can really run on the wing. Walking the ball up and down the court isn’t in our best interest and it’s not going to help our team. So getting out and running is going to be the best for us.”
Teague has career averages of 12.2 points and 4.8 assists on 47 percent shooting from the field in 77 games as a starter.
Daequan Cook Surprised By Trade To Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets shocked the basketball world by acquiring James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder last week in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and an assortment of draft picks.
While Harden was the centerpiece of the deal, the Rockets also acquired veteran guard Daequan Cook and third-year center Cole Aldrich from the Thunder to round out the transaction.
Cook, entering his sixth season, was caught off guard by the trade. He learned of the deal while he was at Eric Maynor’s house watching college football.
“Not really,” Cook told HOOPSWORLD when asked if he felt a trade was imminent. “You couldn’t really tell. Everything was going good. You never really expect it. But just getting that [trade] call was the thing that really shocked me.”
The Thunder lost in the NBA Finals last season to the Miami HEAT by a combined total of just 29 points. On the other hand, the Rockets haven’t reached the postseason since the 2009 campaign.
Going from a team expected to contend for a title to an organization in the midst of reshaping its respective identity is a big adjustment Cook readily admits to experiencing.
“It’s a big transition,” Cook said. “But I’ve been around a lot of vets who understand the game to be able to help these young guys out. So for me to have the opportunity to be in this position to help the guys the way I can, I feel pretty good about it right now. I’m feeling pretty good. It’s a very young team. I bring a lot of experience over here at a young age, but also I’ve been playing the game for a while now.”
Cook also hears the projections for this season, with most people leaving the Rockets out of the playoff discussion. However, the veteran guard said reaching the postseason is within the team’s grasp as long as they keep improving daily.
“We still have an opportunity [here],” Cook said. “We’re still competing right now for a playoff spot. We have the talent to do it. It’s just about us getting better each and every game, learning the game and maturing as a team as the season goes on.”
Cook will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and has only appeared in one of the Rockets’ three games to start the season, but the guard maintains he’s not out to prove anything from an individual standpoint and is focusing on helping Houston improve as a unit.
“I’m not really looking to prove anything,” Cook said. “I’m known for being a shooter, so being a little more aggressive when I have the opportunity to. Helping this team out in any way possible, playing my role as I’ve always done on any team I’ve been on. Doing whatever I can do to help this team win each and every night.”
The Rockets have one of the youngest units in the league this season and while Cook is just 25 years old, he boasts 40 games of postseason experience gained during his stints in Miami and Oklahoma City.
Warriors Lose Brandon Rush For The Entire Season, Torn ACL
The Golden State Warriors announced shooting guard Brandon Rush will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season due to a torn ACL suffered during the first quarter of the team’s game versus the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
There is no timetable set for surgery at this time. Rush signed a two-year, $8 million deal before the season and was expected to play a significant role in head coach Mark Jackson’s nightly rotation. The second year of the deal is a player option.
Rush averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds on 50 percent shooting in his first season with the Warriors.
The Warriors enter the season with legitimate playoff expectations, but their ability to stay healthy will be a critical part of reaching that goal. Fourth year guard Stephen Curry has battled ankle issues but has started the club’s first three games of the season and is averaging 39 minutes per contest. Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut has played in two games, but is currently on a minute restriction as he works his way back from an ankle injury of his own.
The Warriors are currently 2-1 with their next two contests versus non-playoff teams from a season ago (Sacramento and Cleveland). The team then plays 11 consecutive games against teams with legitimate chances to reach the playoffs this season with Denver (3), Minnesota (2), Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Brooklyn and Indiana on the docket.