After knee injury, Jeff Teague increases workload entering camp

Jeff Teague was officially introduced as a Pacer on July 11, 2016.

Jeff Teague was officially introduced as a Pacer on July 11, 2016.

The Pacers could have as many as seven new faces on their roster for the 2016-17 season. First, team president Larry Bird promoted associate head coach Nate McMillan to the lead spot, then he overhauled the roster.

The primary addition was Pike High School product Jeff Teague, who arrived via a trade. He’s the team’s starting point guard with Aaron Brooks and Joe Young filling out the depth chart. It is Teague’s responsibility to handle the ball, setup the offense, and get his teammates involved. Bird badly wants the Pacers to push their scoring average to 105 points per game.

For reference, they scored an average of 102.2 points per game last year, a season that ended in seven games of their Round 1 series against the Toronto Raptors.

“Jeff will get to the basket more,” Bird said last week. “He’ll get fouled, go the line, strip the ball. We got to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays for the other guys.”

See Also: Brother Marquis on Jeff playing for the Pacers: ‘It’s like a dream come true’

Teague, who will serve as the quarterback on the floor, is not completely healthy just yet. Over the summer, Teague himself announced on an Instagram post — it was deleted hours later — that he played his seventh NBA season with a torn patella tendon in his knee.

In that post, he wrote: “They won’t tell y’all but I played with a tear in my patella the whole year and could barely jump or stop but it’s coo got that taken care #illbebackdunking #theywontsaythatpart”

Once the trade was made official and he was introduced at a press conference on July 11, he said that he was taking it easy and had only lifted weights and run on the treadmill.

Speaking at the Pacers Foundation’s annual golf outing last week, head coach Nate McMillan said Teague is not yet 100 percent healthy entering camp.

“I think he’s getting there,” he said.

“He’s been allowed, the last week, to play full court without any restrictions. He started off slow. In the month of July, he really wasn’t doing much. Towards the end of July he started to do some shooting. In August, he started to do a little bit more shooting, and in late August and early September, the medical team allowed him to start playing full court. He went from every other game to, in the last week or so, he’s playing every game and he looks pretty good.”

[Nate McMillan fills out coaching staff with Bill Bayno, David McClure]

Teague has always wanted to play for his hometown team.

Teague has always wanted to play for his hometown team. [Photo: Defro]

The Pacers will hold their annual media day on Monday, and then camp commences the following day. It is McMillan’s belief that he won’t have to manage Teague’s camp workload more than anyone else.

“Talking with our medical team (Tuesday), everybody’s ready to go,” said McMillan. “And that was not said to me, that we will have to monitor his rehabilitation [in camp]. He should be ready to go. All of our guys are pretty good right now as far as bumps and bruises.”

Bird, meanwhile, isn’t sure what to expect from his new point guard until they hit the hardwood for training camp.

“I don’t really know because we haven’t had two-a-days,” Bird said. “But in the workouts he looks fine. He’s been playing the last, I think week or two. It’s encouraging but when you start two-a-days, things could change. From all indications, he looks pretty good.”

Last year with the Hawks, he averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game. It’s likely that his average point total will drop a bit while his assist number increases. Three-time NBA All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Paul George, rising star Myles Turner, plus stretch-four Thad Young and veteran Monta Ellis round out the starting lineup.

“The starters are all veterans so they’ll come together pretty quick,” Bird said, touching on team chemistry. “It might take them a while but I anticipate getting out the of the gate pretty well.”

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