There are stories of a disconnect between the Chicago Bulls's front office and the head coach Tom Thibodeau. Despite both of them being very good at their respective jobs, and having built a quality product out on the floor, rumors abound that the relationship is very fragmented, a disconnect born from various origins, including the departure of assistant coach Ron Adams and the handling of Joakim Noah's minutes.
However, the parties must still have some line of communication. This week, the edict came down from management that backup guard Marquis Teague was to receive extra playing time, in an unashamed and completely unsubtle 'showcase' event. After receiving barely any time during the first two preseason games, Teague promptly played more than half of the third game, given an opportunity to demonstrate both his improvement and his talent.
It didn't work. Teague, indisputably, was terrible, scoring four points on five shots with one assist against four turnovers in a 25 minute outing against the Pistons.
The game epitomized the struggles of young Teague, whose rookie season was a macrocosm of this one game. Put concisely as possible, Teague looks completely lost out on the floor the vast majority of the time. Never an efficient scorer or good shooter, Teague scored 99 points on 113 shots, and while he defended fairly well, his adjustments to the NBA game led to high foul rates.
More importantly, the aspect of the game in which he most figures to need improvements - the playmaking - is sorely lacking. The Bulls' halfcourt offensive playbook is not that hard for a point guard - it mostly involves entry passes, a lot of waiting for all the curls to be completed, and the occasional drive to the basket. However, Teague can't seem to do it. He has similarly struggled in transition, a part of the game that wasn't expected to be difficult for him.
It is not so much that he's having trouble translating his skills to the NBA floor. Rather, Teague has yet to demonstrate NBA calibre skills. So far, Teague has only one average college season and one decent four game summer league stint to his credit. At the NBA level, he cannot shoot, he cannot finish, he cannot run a halfcourt, his transition game and defense are merely decent, and his good athleticism and ball handling aren't of much worth without the half court skills to use them. Marquis is less Jeff Teague and more Royal Ivey at this point, and the prognosis isn't great.
The Bulls are ready to move on. Despite a fairly poor 2012/13 season - in fact, a fairly poor last six seasons - the Bulls value the services of Mike James, who they had for a brief period in the 2011/12 season. They want James to be their third string point guard this season, not Marquis Teague, This decision has already been made, hence the edict from management to play Teague more. Teague, none too subtly, is being shopped. Utah are a reported suitor for his services; before that, talks were ongoing with the Minnesota Timberwolves (whose interest later cooled after the 'showcase' that wasn't.)
The decision is mostly performance related, as seen above. Financial considerations, however, also play a part. Teague's salary for this season is $1,074,720, whilst James's would be $884,293 - that $190,427 seems negligible, but, when considering the Bulls are due to be in the 150% luxury tax range, the $476,068 it becomes after tax is added is significant enough when talking about third string point guards not likely to figure in the rotation all that much.
Essentially, though, this is a tale of a young guard struggling to find his place. He declared for the draft after one season, found himself in the heavily regimented system of a good quality team, and struggled to learn it. He found himself caught betwixt two stubborn and conflicting factions, his coach and his general manager, who seem to be permanently looking to replace him. And now, as soon as they can do it, they will do just that with a 38 year old veteran journeyman who has posted a double figure PER only once since 2007.
It seems fair to say Teague is available for cheap.