It’s become clear in the last three weeks or so that Marquis Teague isn’t exactly Tom Thibodeau’s favorite player. Despite his obvious talent, Teague is still developing and hasn’t shown an ability to contribute consistently to this point. I believe he can get there, if he’s given the chance, but Thibs seems somewhat reluctant to give him said chance. According to Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago, Thibs prefers veteran Mike James to Teague, and that could mean Teague is shipped out before the end of the year. The Utah Jazz, who recently lost rookie Trey Burke, have already expressed interest. And if he’s not traded, Mark Deeks speculates that Teague’s 2014-15 option wouldn’t be picked up, making him a free agent.
This is ridiculous, on a few different levels. Number one, Mike James is not good and has not been good for some time. So even if you’re in the camp that believes Teague is just terrible — which isn’t totally fair, but also not totally wrong — it still doesn’t make any sense to dump him for James. Why would you give up a bad player with the potential to be good for a bad player who only figures to get worse?
Number two, what happens this summer if you dump Teague? Kirk Hinrich’s contract expires this summer, and the Bulls would have to let him walk if they want to have significant cap space. Besides, he’s getting older and he’s injury prone, so there’s not a terribly compelling reason to bring him back. Theoretically, Teague would be waiting in the wings to take his job, but apparently the Bulls don’t feel that way. And not to mention that Hinrich’s already picked up a pair of injuries since training camp started, so maybe it would be nice to have a few extra point guards around?
By the way, this is where it would be nice if the Bulls had their own D-League team. Teague could get minutes and develop at his own pace while also being available in the event of an injury to Hinrich. But that would cost Jerry Reinsdorf money, so I guess that’s out.
And that’s what this all comes down to, in the end. Teague doesn’t make that much money, but it’s still more than the league minimum salary. By dumping him and playing James in his place, JR’s luxury tax bill shrinks slightly, and that’s apparently all that matters. This is the same short-sighted logic that led to the deconstruction of the original Bench Mob in the summer of 2012, and it’s really frustrating that this keeps happening.
Teague had a solid game last night against the Milwaukee Bucks. He was actually really, really good in the second quarter, flashing his pick and roll acumen and getting to the rim. His jumper looks much improved and his confidence in it is so much higher than it was last year that it’s ridiculous. It would be great if the coaching staff and/or front office was willing to look past JR’s bank account to see that, but I guess that’s unreasonable.