The Indiana Pacers have acquired former Pike standout Jeff Teague in a multi-team trade that will send Broad Ripple and IUPUI product George Hill to the Utah Jazz, reports The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
When the Atlanta Hawks were said to be mulling over whether to stay the course or break up their core ahead of the trade deadline in February, ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz reported that Indiana had inquired about the All-Star guard's availability, "dangling" George Hill's familiarity with Mike Budenholzer's Spurs-modeled system as the bait.
Talks never progressed further then; however, now, four months later, it is evident that Utah's No. 12 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft was the push Atlanta needed to expedite the Dennis Schroder era. Teague's somewhat passive-aggressive, and since-deleted Instagram post, in which he jabbed at the Hawks for not acknowledging that he had played the entire 2015-16 season with a partially torn patellar tendon in his knee, likely made the team's decision easier.
The 27-year-old appeared in 79 games this season averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 rebounds on 43.9 percent shooting. In 10 playoff games, he averaged 14.5 points while shooting a woeful 25 percent from three, both significant drop-offs from his productivity in the 2013-14 post-season when his stellar play spearheaded his team unexpectedly pushing the Pacers to a Game 7.
Teague is crafty off the bounce and one of the league's most-frequent drivers (10.8 per game), but without the basketball he disappears where George Hill shines brightest. Indiana's starting guard shot 44.9 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers this season, which trailed only Stephen Curry, J.J. Redick, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyle Lowry (minimum 300 points scored off the pass). With Monta Ellis (30.9%) and Rodney Stuckey (24.1%) both shooting well-below 35 percent from beyond the arc, Hill's ability to space the floor prevented opponents from being able to overload on Paul George.
Still, with Hill's contract set to expire at the end of the 2016-17 season, it became evident from Indiana's alleged interest in Teague as well as Ricky Rubio that the Pacers were intent on finding an "upgrade."
"We've talked about this for a number of years," Bird said at Nate McMillan's introductory press conference. "What we have here is we have a budget and we stay within our budget and if we get an opportunity to get a point guard, we probably will look at it. But to run around and say, 'You should get this guy or that guy,' it's a little harder than you think it is. But obviously I would like to have a real point guard."
If Indiana wants a less deliberate point guard more willing to push the tempo and capable of seeing the floor, then George Hill, who created fewer than nine points off assists per game, may not have been the answer. But there should be legitimate pause about whether slotting Jeff Teague next to another ball dominant guard will be either. Because it is very well likely that increased speed and potential scoring output may not end up being the perfect substitute for Hill's prototypical 3-and-D skill set. Alongside Monta Ellis and Paul George, Hill's self-sacrificing should have been perceived as a virtue instead of decried as a vice.