In search of shooting, Timberwolves trade Jeff Teague to Atlanta for Allen Crabbe
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired the shooting support they’ve needed all season on Thursday, Jan 16, adding Allen Crabbe in a trade with Atlanta.
In return, Minnesota sent Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to the Hawks, ending Teague’s complicated two-and-a-half year stint with the Timberwolves.
All three players involved in the deal are on the final year of their respective contracts, so there’s no monetary risk for for the Timberwolves, who get to see how their offensive system looks in the back-half of the season with another shooter in the fold.
Crabbe is only shooting 32 percent on 3-pointers this season, but the 27-year-old wing is a 39-percent shooter from deep for his career while averaging four 3-point attempts per game.
Minnesota has been a 3-point-heavy team this season in terms of volume, but not success. The Wolves entered Thursday tied for third in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game (39) but second-to-last in percentage made (32.4).
Opposing defenses hunkered down inside to clog up driving lanes for Andrew Wiggins and swarmed Karl-Anthony Towns whenever the all-star center catches the ball, leaving others open on the perimeter for good 3-point looks they simply haven’t made enough of.
Even when Towns and Wiggins made “the right play” to get “the right shot,” they weren’t seeing the fruits of their labor. Crabbe is the type of shooter that could make opposing defenses pay, while potentially spacing the floor to make Towns and Wiggins more effective.
Crabbe should have a good grasp of Minnesota’s schemes given his experience with the Timberwolves’ current staff. He spent the first four years of his career in Portland, playing under then Blazers’ assistant coach David Vanterpool — who’s now the Wolves’ defensive coordinator — and spent the following two years in Brooklyn, the last of which with then Nets’ player development coach Pablo Prigioni — who’s now the Wolves’ offensive coordinator.
Crabbe figures to help Minnesota now, and the second half of the season gives Minnesota a chance to how the guard fits both in its system and alongside Towns to see if Crabbe could be a long-term fit here.Acquiring him came at little cost. Graham and Teague didn’t figure to have futures in Minnesota beyond this season.
Acquiring him came at little cost. Graham and Teague didn’t figure to have futures in Minnesota beyond this season.
Signed to a big-money deal in the summer of 2017 to be the team’s long-term point guard, Teague helped Minnesota get back to the playoffs in his first year on the job, but he missed most of the back half of last season due to injury, and never found much of a groove in this system.
He is a ball-dominant point guard who just didn’t seem to fit well with Minnesota’s new approach. Teague initially was moved to the bench earlier this season to allow Wiggins to take over the bulk of the ball-handling responsibilities, but Shabazz Napier has since been inserted into the starting lineup, making Teague the backup.
That’s also the role Teague will serve in Atlanta, where he spent the first seven years of his career. Teague will back up young star point guard Trae Young.
It remains to be seen exactly where Crabbe slides into the Timberwolves’ rotation.
The trade leaves Minnesota with an open roster spot, which could be used to sign Kelan Martin to a deal. Martin currently is on a two-way contract with the Timberwolves, which only allows him 45 days — which includes practices — on the NBA roster during the season. Martin already has played 17 games for Minnesota this season. The Wolves could also use that roster spot in a different trade or to sign another free-agent — perhaps a player currently with another team who will be bought out after the trade deadline.
The move also freed up roughly $2 million for Minnesota in space under the luxury tax. That gives the Timberwolves more wiggle room to take back more money than they ship out in any potential trades over the next few weeks.
Napier is currently Minnesota’s lone full-time point guard, along with two-way guy Jordan McLaughlin.
With a few weeks remaining between now and the Feb. 6 trade deadline, it’s a good bet Gersson Rosas and Co. are far from finished on the trade front.