Jeff Teague is still a member of the Hawks.
The team matched the four-year, $32 million offer sheet from the Bucks on Saturday, keeping the point guard as one of the building blocks of the organization.
Teague, a restricted free agent, expressed his disillusionment with the progress of negotiations after signing the offer sheet Wednesday. He shared that sentiment with Hawks general manger Danny Ferry.
The Hawks had three days to match the offer and made the final call late Saturday afternoon. The team held the right to match any offer Teague received by extending a qualifying offer before the start of NBA free agency. Teague won’t be reunited with former Hawks coach Larry Drew, assistant Nick Van Exel and center Zaza Pachulia, who have all joined the Bucks this offseason.
“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, 25, was the Hawks’ third leading scorer with a career-high 14.6 points per game last season, behind Josh Smith and Al Horford. In his second year as a starter, he led the team with 7.2 assists per game, 12th in the NBA. He also averaged 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.9 turnovers in 80 games. Teague averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 assists in the six-game first-round playoff series loss to the Pacers.
Moments after news of the matching offer was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Horford responded via Twitter.
“Yes!!!!!!! @Teague0. Time to work!”
Before the Hawks matched the offer, Teague said his issues were with the front office and not the fan base.
“I had a great time,” Teague told the AJC this week. “I had great teammates, coaches. I enjoyed every minute of it. I love the city. The fans were always great to me. It will always be a special place to me. I was drafted by the organization. I enjoyed it. We always went to the playoffs. It was always big. I enjoyed my time there.”
By matching the offer sheet to pay Teague $8 million per year, the Hawks have approximately $7 million in salary-cap space as the roster currently stands, but the flexibility to increase the figure.
According to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, by matching the offer sheet Teague cannot be traded for one year without his consent. Also, during that year he cannot be traded to the Bucks. He cannot be included as part of a sign-and-trade, and the contract cannot be amended for one year.
The salary figure for Teague is not out of line with other starting point guards in the NBA. Jose Calderon, 31, recently agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Mavericks. He has career averages of 10.1 points and 7.2 assists. In his two seasons as a starter, Teague averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 assists. The Pacers’ George Hill also will make $8 million a season for the next four seasons.
It’s not uncommon for the offer-sheet process to produce negative reactions. Eric Gordon signed an offer sheet with Phoenix last year that was matched by New Orleans despite his public statements of his desire to change teams.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to coach Jeff,” 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.”
With Teague back in the fold, the Hawks solidified the point guard position. Shelvin Mack is on the roster with a non-guaranteed contract. The team also drafted 19-year-old Dennis Schroder with the 17th pick in last month’s draft.
Teague will enter his fifth season with the Hawks after being selected in the first round (No. 19) of the 2009 draft out of Wake Forest. He became a starter two years ago, and his statistics improved each season.