Should The Knicks Trade For Jeff Teague? Let’s Break It Down

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks

The Knicks and Hawks have talked potential deals for Jeff Teague… Why should or shouldn’t the Knicks trade for the (borderline) All Star Point Guard

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First response here? Love it.

Anyone who’s watched this Knicks team knows the point guard spot it the weakness. And while I’ve grown to appreciate Jose for what he is, we all know he’s not a starting point guard in the league. I could put up with his doormat defense if he ran the offense well. But when you consistently miss your 7’3″ transcendent shooter matchup nightmare basketball unicorn on the pick and pop/roll, you can’t be my point guard. Can’t have that.

For the sake of this whole team, we need a real point guard who can run that pick and roll, get to the hoop, create his own shot, and yes, hopefully have some competency defensively. That’s what Teague provides. So the obvious answer is to go get him. After last night’s almost victory over the Thunder even without Melo, it’s hard not to dream of this team making noise in the playoffs with a real point guard. We don’t have our first round pick anyway, right? So why not go for broke?

Well before we pull the trigger here, let’s just take a step back. At first glance we might all say yes, but let’s consider a few things before making this trade…

1) What’s the cost of getting Teague?

We know Calderon will be in the deal. He matches up salary-wise and would fit nicely in Atlanta as Schroeder’s backup.

After that, it’s hard to imagine this deal getting done without sending Jerian and a future first. Maybe you throw Afflalo in there, ask for Thabo, and hope to keep the pick – but is that worth it? Are we going to start mortgaging the future again? We got really lucky with Kristaps and Jerian, why not build around them gradually? Shouldn’t we do this the right way?

Sure, Teague is good and young enough to warrant it. For a PG of his quality, I’m okay letting Jerian and (what is hopefully) a pick in the late twenties in 2018 go. But at the same time, why jump to give up the assets when…

2) Mike Conley will be a free agent this summer. Wouldn’t we rather wait for him?

This obviously includes the risk that Conley could stay in Memphis or sign elsewhere, but it also means we can keep those assets. And if given the choice between the two, Conley’s defense outweighs everything else.

I like Teague, I think he’d be a great fit. But what Conley brings to the table from a defense, toughness, and that “pure point guard” standpoint gives him a slight edge. Is there risk in waiting? Of course. Especially considering the huge drop after Conley in next years Free Agent PG department. But I’ll take my chances on a Conley-Grant combo over just Teague for right now. I say right now because of the last and probably most important point to consider here…

3) The Melo trade is still on the table.

I love what Carmelo has done this year as much as anyone. Love the concessions he’s made. Love the way he’s moved the ball. Love that he’s been a mentor to Kristaps. Love that he trusts his teammates.

But it might be time. It might be best just to sell high and go all-in and the rebuild. @World_Wide_Wob wrote a post on the whole thing today that’s definitely worth the read. And he brought up two potential trades. One of which I’ve been plugging for since the preseason.

melotrade_mia1

And another that I hadn’t thought was possible until the whole Chicago thing started to blow up.

melotrade_chi1

It’s clear that Chicago is 1) officially Jimmy Butler’s team, 2) wayyyyy too crowded in the frontcourt, and 3) Ready to move on from Rose. If they can turn Rose and the 22nd pick into a win-now player like Melo, I think they’re willing to do it. And although I’m not crazy about bringing the Rose injury circus to town, the idea of a Porzingis-Portis frontcourt growing up together is absolutely worth that risk.

Realistically speaking though, Miami is more feasible. Melo accepts that trade because he gets to play with his friends Wade and Bosh and immediately has a shot at the title (or at least the finals – nobody is beating GS). And the Knicks get back a potential First Team All-Defense wing player in Winslow, a potential poor man’s Lamar Odom who could thrive in the triangle in Josh McRoberts, and about $15 million extra in salary cap room this summer that has Mike Conley’s name written all over it.

In either case, trading Melo completely voids the need to dump assets for Teague right now. If the Knicks think the Melo trade is there, they won’t rush to make this trade.

To bring it back… I’m okay with a Teague trade. He’s not a top 10 point guard, but he’s significantly better than what we have. And as much as I love Grant, getting a quality starter to fill a huge need for just an $8mil cap hit is probably too good too pass up. I’d love to watch him run pick and rolls with KP and hit threes and maybe guard a guy or two over the course of a game.

But I’m also not dying to do it. Yes he makes us a better team, but we’re still not winning more than one playoff series with him. It’s a short term fix. One that could be gone in a year and a half. And it would cost us a backup point guard/sparkplug off the bench in Jerian Grant who could be an absolute steal of a backup for the next four years at $1.5 mil. I say wait it out for Mike Conley, even if the most likely scenario is him staying in Memphis.

Worst case we have to wait an extra year until Russ comes calling…


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