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Brandon Jennings is “doing his homework on big-market teams,” but winning may entice him to stay with the Bucks

Feb 10, 2012, 2:30 PM EST

Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks, Game 1 Getty Images

Brandon Jennings made plenty of Bucks fans nervous on Friday, thanks to a quote about his thoughts on future free agency that was reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com

“I am going to keep my options open, knowing that the time is coming up,” Jennings said. “I’m doing my homework on big-market teams.”

The “big-market teams” part is the most troubling phrase for Milwaukee obviously, even though in the rest of the interview, Jennings makes it pretty clear that he, like all free agents, is going to carefully weigh his options when the time comes.

“I’m not saying I won’t (sign an extension with the Bucks) and I’m not saying I will,” he said, in the very same piece. “I’m just keeping my options open.”

Harmless stuff, especially considering that the only relatively immediate action that could come regarding Jennings and free agency is his ability to sign a long-term contract extension with Milwaukee after this season. If he chooses not to, he still wouldn’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2014.

Fans will read into this what they like, but the reality is that we’re still a pretty long way from Jennings fleeing Milwaukee for a so-called big-market team. Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Jennings about this very subject at the beginning of January, when his Bucks were in Phoenix to face the Suns. And I asked him about Milwaukee as an organization, and if he’d consider signing to stay with them for the majority of his career.

“I’m happy here,” Jennings told NBCSports.com. “Small, big market, whatever you want to call it. As long as I’m in the NBA playing and doing what I love, it’s just a blessing at the end of the day. That’s how I see it.”

As for whether star players would ever align in a city like Milwaukee as they have recently in Miami and New York, Jennings didn’t seem to think the city was the primary concern. It’s playing for a winning organization that he believes would ultimately attract the big-name free agents.

“At the end of the day you’ve got to start winning, though, to attract players and things like that,” Jennings said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more about the market, it’s more the tradition and how the team is. If you’re winning, they’ll come.”

This seems to be in line with the part in Broussard’s report where he cites sources saying that Jennings is “frustrated with the direction of the franchise.”

The good news for the Bucks is that they have some time to try to get things turned around to the point where Jennings will want to sign a long-term deal. He seems genuinely fine with playing in Milwaukee, and as long as the team can attract some additional talent to play alongside him, Jennings may very well be content to stay.

“I’m here, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the city,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re in the NBA. So you’re doing what you love, no matter where you’re at, no matter what city you’re in.”

  1. tcclark - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Just more proof the the lockout did nothing…

    • shaggytoodle - Feb 10, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      I don’t really think this has anything to do with the lockout, he is keeping his options open. He isn’t like Howard in ORL asking for a trade.

      I also think that Jennings knows with him and a healthy Bogut they can be quite effective. They were a freak injury away from getting into the 2nd round of the playoffs a few seasons ago. When they took the Hawks to the liimits without thier big man.

      • tcclark - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM

        The league was hoping to stop the large market dominance in the NBA and create a more fair league. I have no problem with Jennings keeping his options open. Guys should be allowed to leave via free agency, but he specifically says that he’s looking into large markets. teams like minnesota, charlotte, sacramento, new orleans, utah, etc. should have the name kind of chances as new york, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.

        If the NBA wants to have a fair league than it needs:

        1. A Hard Salary cap – Teams should not be able to resign any player they want to a max deal without the constraints of a salary cap. If the Lakers don’t have the Cap Space to resign Kobe to as much money as Kobe wants, then he should have to go somewhere else or sign for less. It would also make trades a whole lot easier to complete

        2. Non-guaranteed contracts – More player movement will create a better brand of basketball. There is talent that is not playing in the NBA because teams are strapped to players long term. being able to cut and sign players will create more talented teams.

        3. No max-contracts – if teams want to mortgage the future on one player than let them. By forcing everyone to have to pay the same as the rest, than your taking any advantage a small market team might have over a large market.

        4. to develop the D-League into a full-fledged minor league system. Let every team have a minor league team. Expand the draft a round or two to allow teams to build a minor league system, and allow call ups and send downs. it will allow teams to hold onto guys like Jeremy Lin, and call him up when he’s ready. it will make sure that every roster is as talented as it can be.

      • beagle11 - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        @TCCLARK Why should those teams have the same chance as NY, LA and Chicago?? It cost MUCH more money to operate those teams. It cost MUCH more money to buy those teams, and those teams are MUCH more responsible for the growth and health of the league. Why should Herb Khol have the same product as Jerry Buss when Jerry Buss spent a lot more money for his product? Your talking some real commie sh*t. This would work great in the former USSR and China.

      • bparmalee - Feb 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM

        @beagle11 A balanced league works for everyone. Even if you had a hard cap, a franchise tag or non-guaranteed deals players would still gravitate to the big markets. Teams like LA, New York, Chicago and Boston would still do very well. The fact is you cant have a 6 team league and teams like the Bobcats hurt everyone. You think the Lakers fans get excited to see the Bobcats coming in?? Better competition equals a better product and more revenue for everyone. If you have 8 relevant teams year in and year out…that are relevant not because of scouting or skill but because of location… that’s bad for business. Small market teams can’t help where they are located… we cant just move every team to 4 to or 5 markets.

        As far as “commie” goes… or USSR or China? Players in the NBA make a ton of money…. some owners make money… some don’t but that’s just how business works. However if every team except for 8 fold… there wont be a NBA and that’s bad for everyone. The market is speaking… just take a look at some of the crowds at NBA games. OKC is a great exception but we need that to be closer to the norm and not just a bright spot.

      • tcclark - Feb 10, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        @beagle11 Communist? Do you even know what that means? Isn’t America the land of equal opportunity? Does that make America a communist country in your book?

        I’m not talking about revenue sharing (which is more along the lines of communism, but is done all around sports anyway). By giving everyone equal opportunity and creating a better brand of basketball, teams like NY, LA, and Chicago will MAKE MORE MONEY. The system I proposed is similar to the system run in the NFL (also not communist) and the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable American Sports franchise worth 1.81 billion dollars according to Forbes. That system in the NFL has helped make football extremely popular across the country, not just in the big markets.

        Creating more competitive teams creates more fans, and more fans create more money. As much as he enjoys the current system, even Jerry Buss would want the other owners to have the same opportunity because they will make him more money. And still more money than the Bobcats, Kings, or Hornets.

  2. losangelasbasketball - Feb 10, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    All sports agents beg their players to say exactly what he said, it literally means nothing.

  3. bparmalee - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    I don’t think this has anything to do with the lockout or winning. Jennings is a frugal guy and I think he is trying to leverage the Bucks into paying him the max. There really isn’t another reason to make this kind of release right now. The Bucks can’t attract free agents… like every other small market team they have to build through the draft. He can’t pressure them into making moves to get better since he is their only real asset (Bogut being injury prone). He just wants to back them into over paying him and if not… trading him some place where he wont get the max but the extra endorsements will cover it. It’s a smart business move on him and his agents part. They are just feeling out the Bucks.

  4. vicktator - Feb 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Jennings isn’t good enough to make a douchey statement like this.

  5. knicks4life - Feb 10, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Trade Landry fields and shrumpret and a first round pick for Jennings

  6. edavidberg - Feb 10, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Jennings is not a max contract guy so I don’t know why he’s mouthing off.

  7. ufullpj - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    First, I think we all agree that Jennings is not anywhere close to a max contract guy, as @edavidberg mentioned.

    Second, I’d love to know the context of the interview and the questions that were asked. Whether or not it’s true, it seems like there are certain markets, and Milwaukee is one of them, where ESPN always seems get a “scoop” and “sources” indicated that an emerging player wants out for a bigger market – like NY, Boston, or LA. Like most people, I believe about half of what comes out of Bristol. They have a knack for creating the story that they then hype and cover.

    Third, Jennings is part of the reason why they win (when they win), and a big reason why they lose (when they lose). He’s inconsistent, immature, and it seems he’s been getting some bad advice from “handlers”. It’s his call when he’s a FA, and no one begrudges them that right – but to make it an issue a year and a half before his contract is up? Ignorant.

    Some have said he reminds them of a young Allen Iverson. For Jennings’ sake, let’s hope he doesn’t end up like Iverson – Bankrupt @ 37.

  8. mcjon22 - Feb 11, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    That headline is an Ox y moron in its self.

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