The Milwaukee Bucks have already lost two of their key contributors from the 2012-2013 NBA season as both Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick chose to sign elsewhere in free agency. They were also looking to move on from Brandon Jennings, as well, as they offered a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to restricted free-agent Jeff Teague.
However, the Atlanta Hawks chose to match Teague’s offer sheet and bring him back to be part of the core of their newly restructured roster. Now that leaves the Bucks with the awkward task of now desperately needing to re-sign Jennings.
Though Teague is more of floor-general and a more efficient offensive player, Jennings does possess play-making ability and outside shooting that Teague doesn’t. Last season with Milwaukee, Jennings played 36.2 minutes per game and averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and shot just 39.9 percent from the field and a solid 37.5 percent from beyond-the-arc.
The biggest and most obvious reason that Jennings is now a necessity for the Bucks to sign is the simple fact that they don’t have a true starting point guard. They have brought in O.J. Mayo via free agency and acquired Luke Ridnour as part of a three-team deal. However, neither Mayo nor Ridnour are players that an NBA team really wants to roll out as a starting point guard.
Milwaukee essentially has two options now regarding bringing back Jennings. They can get Jennings to agree to his one-year, $4.3 million qualifying offer or they can offer him a long-term contract, what Jennings is actually looking for.
The problem with the second option is that Jennings is reportedly looking for a deal that will pay him around $11 million per year, which is really why he hasn’t found a landing spot yet in free agency. The Bucks really can’t afford to give Jennings that kind of money. It has nothing to do with the salary cap or Jennings’ value really, but has a lot to do with the fact that they would look quite silly in giving their plan B point guard more money than they offered Teague, their primary option.
Jennings is still just 23 years old and still has a ton of potential as a point guard in this league, even if he hasn’t yet put all of the pieces together. The Bucks have their hands tied in this situation and must bring Jennings back, but if they want to save face as an organization, they are going to have to negotiate with Jennings and bring him down from the $11 million that he’s looking for.