Contrary to what many may have believed, Bulls point guard Marquis Teague was actually looking forward to playing for the Iowa Energy, Chicago’s Developmental League team.
But as soon as the second-year pro arrived in the Des Moines airport yesterday, he received a phone call from the Bulls' brass.
“As soon as I landed, they told me to come right back. So it was crazy,” Teague said. “I wasn’t as upset as people thought I was because I was going to get a chance to play quality minutes, but I got called back so I’m happy about that.”
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The decision to find more minutes for the Kentucky alum was brought upon over the weekend, when veteran Mike James was named by head coach Tom Thibodeau as the team’s backup point guard behind starter Kirk Hinrich.
James, however, suffered a knee sprain during Monday’s triple-overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans – potentially in warmups – and is expected to miss at least a week, per Thibodeau.
That left Teague as the only remaining point guard behind Hinrich, who for the second time in as many years entered the starting lineup in place of the injured Derrick Rose, who was seen walking around the Berto Center on crutches.
Thibodeau said Teague’s demotion was not a punishment, but rather trying to find minutes for a 20-year-old who has been stuck behind a deep backcourt during his first two seasons in the NBA.
“That was about playing time and we talked about, because (Iowa) is so close, we could call him back after a day, which we ended up doing. But we had talked about that before we even sat him down, we just thought him getting some playing time would be good for him,” Thibodeau said. “We have confidence in him, he just has to be ready to go. That was never a long-term situation. It was done with the thought of him getting some playing time.”
Teague is sure to see minutes behind Hinrich, but he’ll need to perform better than he has through the season’s first month.
In nine games, Teague, who did not play in the Bulls’ previous two games, has averaged 1.2 points on 16.7 percent shooting and has an assist-to-turnover ratio less than 1, numbers which are all down from his rookie campaign when he played in 48 regular-season games and saw some run in the Bulls’ first-round win over the Brooklyn Nets.
“The big thing is he’s got to keep working,” Thibodeau said. “There’s been some games where he’s played very well, and some games not as well as he would like or we would like. But he’s making progress.”
Teague looked at his situation as a win-win: either see the lion’s share of minutes at point guard in Iowa or continue to work in Chicago while helping the Bulls try to get back to .500 and find stability.
“Either way it went, I was going to have to do it. If I went there I was going to get a lot of playing time and grow as a player, or if I’m here I’m going to continue learning and continue to grow as a player,” Teague said. “I never lose my confidence. When I get my opportunity I’m going to take advantage of it.”