Keeping Marquis Teague

Marquis Teague - Chicago Bulls 2013/2014
(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)
(Originally published in 2013)
There have been rumors lately of the Bulls potentially trading Kirk Hinrich for Brandon Rush.  I know Will Miller of the Bulls Zone opinion.  You can read it here and hear it on the podcast here.  He’s of the opinion that you do it and let Marquis Teague shine.  I would imagine many Bulls fans think exactly the same way.  And I’m not completely opposed to that way of thinking, but Bulls management seems confident that this core can compete for an NBA championship as-is. If I’m Gar Forman, these are the questions I ask before making any move this season: 1) Does this trade significantly increase our odds of winning the title this year? 2) Does this trade decrease our chance of winning the title this year?  3) How does this effect the team long-term in terms of A) contract length B) decreasing cap space next year (when we could “blow up this core” supposedly and make a run at a free agent or multiple ones)

If I’m the Chicago Bulls, I’m thinking long and hard about that.  With the Kirk Hinrich for Brandon Rush trade, you would be bringing in a versatile wing player with NBA experience and he’s a career 41% 3pt shooter.  He’s a good enough defender and could help space the floor.  Here’s the negative: He is 28 and tore his ACL last year. Just because he’s recovered, doesn’t mean he’ll be the same player.  Is the risk worth the reward? I’m not sure, especially with Dahntay Jones showing up to Bulls camp who can give you a lot of the same assets at a lower cost minus the three-point shooting.

As for Kirk Hinrich, we know what he is and we know he’s beloved in Chicago because of his grit and grind personality.  Kirk gave the Bulls 7 pts and 5 assists last year while shooting 39% from 3pt and knows how to run a team.  He’s injury prone, we all know that, but that’s why you keep the 3rd point guard around and hope that a reserve role will allow Kirk to play 70-80 games.  He’s a versatile player and a great defender and one of those guys who does the little things that teams need to win games.  His contract is expiring after this year (as is Brandon Rush’s) so there’s no long-term commitment to either guy.

Here’s my issue with making this trade: Marquis Teague.  You’re throwing all of your eggs into the Marquis Teague basket.  I’m not saying Marquis Teague will never make it.  And I saw him “dominate the Summer League,” but what does that even mean?  Malcolm Thomas did it two years ago and couldn’t even land a contract with an NBA team until the end of the year.  Jimmy Butler did it and now he’s on his way to the Hall of Fame (kidding).  We saw Marquis Teague last year and he did a great job during the regular season.  He had a solid stint in Game 7 against Brooklyn (4 pts, 3 assists in 14 minutes), but then we played Miami.  And Marquis Teague, a point guard, literally couldn’t get the ball past half court.  Again, he’s been playing the point guard position his whole life and couldn’t get it past half court!  This is who we’re relying on to give D-Rose some rest during a crucial playoff game against Miami this year?   I’m sorry, but until I see him actually do it, I don’t have any confidence whatsoever in him.

This is why the Bulls shouldn’t trade Kirk Hinrich this year.  Hinrich and Rush’s contracts are both expiring.  The Bulls could take a chance on Rush next year after they see how he has recovered from knee surgery.  They can still contend this year and might be better off with the team that they have.  This is probably the best team Tom Thibodeau has ever had.  They’re 8 deep with quality players and seem motivated to make some noise this NBA season.  Why chance it?  Roll with this team unless a “can’t miss” offer presents itself.

When Marquis Teague was drafted, I was pretty icy toward it.  I live in Lexington, KY. I am not a UK fan, so I’m a little more harsh on their players, but I watched all of his college games.  Out of that entire National Championship team, he was unquestionably the worst.  Couldn’t take care of the ball (still can’t), can’t shoot (did in Summer League).  I know his criticisms and I have been impressed by his improvements.  But if you follow Marquis Teague on Twitter, you see he doesn’t talk about basketball much.  Does he really care about getting better? I have no idea, but he has gotten better so far.  To me, this situation will play out a lot like the Bledsoe/Chris Paul situation in LA.  Bledsoe showed some flashes and then was traded before they extended him.  I expect us to do the same with Teague.  Why keep him?  His ceiling in Chicago is quality backup point guard.  He’s never surpassing Rose so why keep him? And if you have the opportunity to move him for an asset, say a future draft pick, why not?  The team has struck gold with their draft picks recently.

I’m all for the Bulls making a move that will improve their chances this season, but given the deficiencies Marquis Teague showed in last year’s playoffs, I don’t see the logic in trading a valuable piece like Hinrich for a potentially valuable piece in Brandon Rush.  The Bulls have quality wing players: Deng, Butler, Dunleavy, and a potentially good rookie in Tony Snell (I’m high on him and he looks like “Nightcrawler” from X-Men).  I think, for now, the Bulls should say no and see how the season plays out and try to get Rush in free agency.  I like the roster they have constructed and believe that the Bulls have a legitimate shot at making a run at the title.