Hawks' Teague thrilled with support from Joe Johnson

Not that he would have known any better.

Friday marked his first official day in his chosen profession, the Hawks having picked him 19th in Thursday night's NBA draft. And the sight of Hawks captain Joe Johnson cutting through a conference room doorway to greet his newest teammate was the kind of welcome Teague needed.

"It's just great to see Joe out here supporting me like this on the first day," Teague said after being introduced at the Hawks' downtown headquarters. "When I looked up and saw him, that me feel good. That really put me at ease knowing that he didn't have to be here today for this, and he came anyway.

"That lets me know that he's in my corner, and that takes a lot of the pressure off of any guy that's making this move from college basketball to the NBA."

It was Johnson's second conversation with a new teammate Friday, his first face-to-face. He spent some time Friday morning on the phone with Jamal Crawford, the veteran point guard the Hawks snagged from Golden State in a trade before Thursday's draft.

"I just thought it would be good to stop by and introduce myself," said Johnson, who apologized for not dressing up for the affair.

"I called [Hawks coach Mike Woodson] and he told me this would be going on, so I just came down in my shorts and T-shirt," Johnson said with a smile. "With Jeff and Jamal, we're getting two guys that we know can put the ball in the hole. And that's a good thing. Those are two great guys to fit our system and that will be able to get up and down the floor."

Where Johnson's old backcourt partner, Mike Bibby, fits into the equation remains a mystery. Bibby is an unrestricted free agent, and there's no guarantee that the Hawks will be able to re-sign him. Teams can begin negotiating with free agents July 1.

"Obviously, we'd love to have Mike back," Johnson said. "But that's the part of this that we have to deal with, that we really have no control over. Hopefully, we can get something worked out, but Jeff and Jamal definitely give us some options no matter what."

Both Woodson and Hawks general manager Rick Sund made it clear Friday that both Bibby and reserve guard Flip Murray remain high priorities in free agency, but they're more than happy to have Crawford and Teague already in the fold.

The Hawks traded Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton to get Crawford and watched seven other point guards go off the board before grabbing Teague.

"I'm not knocking Acie Law in any way shape or form," Woodson said. "But this kid [Teague] is what I'd call a true point guard. I gave Acie some opportunities, and it just didn't work. That's no knock on him as a player or me as a coach. Injuries probably hurt Acie the two years he was here, and honestly we just didn't have the luxury of waiting on him when he first got here. We had to win.

"Jeff Teague has a different situation, and in some ways I think a better situation, in that we have a solid foundation of veterans here that he'll be able to learn from and lean on. Make no mistake about it, he has the tools, and we need to provide him with the opportunity to become the player we think he can become."

Teague said he's not operating on a specific timeline, but he's not coming just to watch.

"I think it's a great situation, where I don't have to come in and carry the weight of the world on my shoulders because we already have some great point guards here," Teague said. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to come in and lay down or anything. This is a dream come true to finally be in the NBA, and I'd be a fool to waste a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this.

"I'm here to be the best and I'm going to work hard and do whatever it takes to be the best."

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