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Hawks retain Jeff Teague by matching Bucks' offer sheet

Jeff TeagueJeff Teague reportedly told the Atlanta Hawks he wanted to 'move on,' but the Hawks had different plans. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Hawks retained restricted free-agent point guard Jeff Teague by matching a four-year, $32 million offer sheet made by the Bucks.

Atlanta GM Danny Ferry announced the move -- which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CBSSports.com -- on Saturday.

“We are happy to bring Jeff back to our team," Ferry said in a statement. "He has improved each year of his career and continues to get better. At 25, he’s already been a key contributor on a playoff team and we look forward to seeing him develop into even more of a leader on our team.”

Teague averaged 14.6 points, 7.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from deep last season. His PER of 16.8 ranked No. 20 among point guards last season.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach Jeff," new Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said in a statement. "He has a high level of talent. Keeping him with our group allows us to continue to build and improve going forward."

As noted at the time of Milwaukee's offer, the terms here were reasonable, and the smart assumption was that Atlanta would match. Rarely does a team let a key starting player with no known red flags walk in restricted free agency unless he is being massively overpaid.

Earlier this week, Teague told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he didn't expect the Hawks to match and that he hasn’t had much contact with Atlanta’s front office during free agency. This now appears to be a case of the Hawks simply allowing the market to dictate Teague's price. Sometimes, that can be a risky approach, but here they wind up with a solid starter on a solid deal. Surely the fences between Teague and Hawks' management can be mended quickly, as Atlanta's roster is coming together nicely. Teague, scoring guard Lou Williams, Shelvin Mack, second-year guard John Jenkins and 2013 first-round pick Dennis Schröder make up the backcourt; Al Horford and Paul Millsap are paired up front.

With Teague no longer an option, the Bucks must turn their attention back to their own restricted free-agent point guard, Brandon Jennings, after acquiring O.J. Mayo and Luke Ridnour this summer.

Jennings, 23, averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals, while shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep last season. His PER of 16.2 ranked No. 28 among point guards last season.

It's unclear who else is competing for his services this late in the game, but Jennings now knows that the Bucks ultimately preferred Teague, or at least preferred Teague at this price. Jennings hasn't always seemed like the happiest camper in Milwaukee; that strained relationship now only seems more tenuous. If the two sides can't reach agreement on a multi-year contract, Jennings' other option would be to take a one-year, $4.3 million qualifying offer and trying his luck again next summer as an unrestricted free agent.

GRADE: B+. A full-time starter for two years, Teague's retention ensures a level of continuity on a new-look roster. At $8 million per year, Teague will be slotted well below all of the other major 2009 guards, including Tyreke Evans ($44 million over four years), Stephen Curry ($44 million over four years), DeMar DeRozan ($40 million over four years), Jrue Holiday ($41 million over four years) and Ty Lawson ($48 million over four years). That's where he belongs. His number also happens to be significantly less than the four-year, $40 million extension that Jennings turned down last fall, according to Yahoo! Sports.

These terms should make him a liquid asset, as the Hawks shouldn't have any trouble trading him down the road should they decide to go in a different direction for some reason.
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