Lloyd Pierce welcomes Jeff Teague’s veteran presence for Hawks

Playing in his 11th season, Jeff Teague has more NBA experience than the Hawks’ starting lineup of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and John Collins combined (Reddish and Hunter are rookies, Young and Huerter are in their second year and Collins is in his third).

That veteran presence, and the gravity of returning to the Hawks, who drafted him in 2009, is what coach Lloyd Pierce discussed with Teague on Friday, a day after the Hawks traded Allen Crabbe to Minnesota in exchange for Teague and swingman Treveon Graham. Pierce expects Teague and Graham to be available when the Hawks play the Pistons 7:30 p.m. Saturday at State Farm Arena.

“I just told him, ‘Understand what you’re walking into,’” Pierce said.

Teague, who was averaging 13.2 points and 6.1 assists with the Timberwolves this year, was an integral part of the Hawks’ consecutive playoff run and was an All-Star on their 60-win team in the 2014-15 season that lost in the Eastern Conference finals.

Back in familiar territory, Teague will bring experience to an exceptionally youthful locker room.

“To be able to use his voice in the locker room is important,” Pierce said. “They will look to him just because of who he is and what he’s done in this league and his familiarity in Atlanta, so I’m going to look to him as well.”

Pierce plans to use Teague primarily as a backup point guard who can shore up some bench production when Young is off the floor. But he can also deploy Teague at the same time as Young and play Young off the ball more. Having another option should lift a little burden off the Hawks’ young star, though Young has said he doesn’t mind his heavy minutes.

Teague also should give the Hawks a boost late in games, when they've struggled to close out winnable contests (their loss to the Wizards on Jan. 10 is a good example, when a six-point lead midway through the fourth devolved into a 10-point loss).

“Obviously, it addresses a need, just having a veteran and having another point guard,” Pierce said. “Just to provide playmaking and leadership, some organization. One of the things we’ve struggled with all year is our fourth-quarter execution. In Trae’s last game, he was great. Understandably, that’s one of the areas that he will continue to get better at, and to have another guy on the floor that’s helping us out there is huge.”

For Young, Teague’s experience and history with Atlanta is a valuable asset.

“He’s going to want to play really well being back here,” Young said. “It’s going to be good having him back, and I know the city’s going to love having him back too.”

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