With the Atlanta Hawks mulling over whether to stay the course or break up their core ahead of the February 18 NBA trading deadline, the Indiana Pacers have inquired about Jeff Teague's availability, reports ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz.
Sources say the Indiana Pacers have made inquiries and have dangled guard George Hill as a possible swap. The Magic are also potential suitors for Teague, sources confirmed.
Teague was named an All-Star for the first time last season, but the Hawks are playing mediocre basketball over the last 10 games (4-6) and already possess a potential replacement for the high-motor guard on their roster in the form of Dennis Schroder, making him a likely candidate to be moved in the coming days (hours?).
Jeff Teague is no stranger to Indiana, and George Hill is familiar with Mike Budenholzer's Spurs-modeled system. Here are a few numbers to know about a possible swap of the Indiana natives, who both are owed $8 million in 2016-17:
49.6: George Hill's field-goal percentage on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the highest conversion rate in the league among those with at least 200 points off the catch. Given how Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo's shared time in Dallas ended last season, this number matters. It really matters. Ellis is at his best when he is driving and dishing to his teammates on the perimeter and pulling-up for mid-range, elbow jumpers. Both require that he possess the basketball. And both indicate that he is better suited sharing the backcourt with an off-ball threat.
Teague is shooting a career-best 41.2 percent from three, but his best offensive skill is arguably his ability to get two feet in the paint and convert at the rim with aggressive drives (10.9 per game) and soft floaters. Sliding him next to Ellis and Paul George would either necessitate that someone make significant sacrifices or cause Indiana's offense to devolve further into "your turn-my turn" possessions.
27.0: Indiana's Net Rating with George Hill, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Myles Turner, and Ian Mahinmi in the starting lineup. It's a small sample size, but this 5-man unit's potential upside is exciting. Ellis seems to have gotten his groove back since having his knee drained. Paul George is back to averaging 24 points on 46.4 percent shooting from distance, since earning a comfortable win over the Brooklyn Nets. And Turner's conversion rate from 16-24 feet allows the Pacers to gain space without sacrificing size, physicality, and rebounding. In other words, Indiana is having it's cake and eating it, too. With Ian Mahinmi protecting the rim and George Hill serving as a potent corner three threat, the fit of Indiana's starters is greater than the sum of its parts.
Over the last four games, only Toronto's unit of Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, and Bismack Biyombo is outscoring opponents by a higher margin, minimum 30 minutes played.
With only 55 minutes of on-court playing time, there's no guarantee these numbers will hold over a larger sample size. But what if they do? Why fix what isn't broke mid-season?
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Between injuries, fatigue, and in-season lineup and system changes, it is challenging to accurately pinpoint Indiana's needs heading into the trade deadline next week. Averaging 15.1 points and 5.4 assists, Jeff Teague's traditional stats indicate he is a more productive player than George Hill, but that does not necessarily mean he is the better fit for the Pacers in the absence of other parallel trades. Consider this: The recurring knock against George Hill's game is his passivity. But alongside Monta Ellis and Paul George, that very vice -- his willingness to fit in where needed -- may be his most underrated virtue.