After trading Rubio, Minnesota lands Jeff Teague

Published 7:48 am Monday, July 3, 2017

By Jace Frederick

St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Timberwolves have found their point guard of the present.

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Minnesota and Jeff Teague have agreed to a three-year, $57-million deal, with a player-option for the third year, a source confirmed. The deal was reported by the Associated Press just minutes after free agency’s official 11 p.m. central start time on Friday.

ASM Sports, Teague’s agency, tweeted just after 11 p.m. Friday that Teague committed to signing with the Wolves. Teague can’t sign a deal with Minnesota until Thursday because of NBA rules.

The Timberwolves had to find a starting floor general after sending Ricky Rubio to Utah in exchange for a first-round pick Friday afternoon. Teague will make roughly $19 million a year over the three years. Rubio was set to make $14.2 million next season.

In Teague, Minnesota adds a legitimate fourth scoring threat to play alongside Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He has averaged 15-plus points a game in each of the past four seasons and is a career 36-percent three-point shooter.

Teague, who spent his first seven seasons in Atlanta before playing for the Pacers last season, averaged 15.3 points, 7.8 assists and four rebounds while playing all 82 games in what might have been the best season of his career.

Teague is durable, having played at least 85-percent of the regular season games in each of his eight seasons. But the shooting element may be the most important. Minnesota needs the ability to space the floor. The Timberwolves finished dead last in three-pointers made (7.3) and attempted (21) per game last season.

The Wolves made their greatest weakness weaker when they sent their best three-point shooter, Zach LaVine, to Chicago as part of the Jimmy Butler deal.

While Minnesota still lacks a sharpshooter — a need it should fill later as free agency progresses — its projected starting five of Teague, Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng features five players who all shot better than 35 percent from three last season.