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Brandon Jennings wants big money, Bucks to improve to keep him this summer

Mar 9, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

Brandon Jennings has never lacked for self-confidence.

Jennings is a restricted free agent next summer — meaning the Milwaukee Bucks have the power because they can match any offer the young point guard gets — but he was the one trying to play hardball Friday.

Jennings said that this summer he not only wants a big contract but also added the Bucks need to improve the roster and make it a contender, in speaking to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Jennings considers Milwaukee a “great sports town” and has enjoyed his time there, but in order to keep him long term, Jennings said the Bucks’ offer must be lucrative and there needs to be changes in the roster and the organization to make it championship caliber.

He turned down a four-year, $40 million deal prior to this season, a source told Yahoo!

Jennings might make a little more than that offer this summer — he brought in a new agent to see that he does — but not that much. The reason is he’s not THAT good. Which is the same reason he’s not been an All-Star — sorry Brandon, it’s not the market, it’s your play.

Jennings scores 18.4 points a game this year but is shooting just 40.3 percent. He is quick and can get to the rim, but finishes just 52.5 percent of his shots when he gets there (via Hoopdata). Jennings gets most of his shots (36.8 percent of his attempts) as the ball handler on pick-and-rolls and he scores a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession that way shooting 40.7 percent (from Synergy Sports). He’s developed a good three-point shot and can punish teams that go under the pick, but when he has to attack he doesn’t finish (he shoots just 46.3 percent inside nine feet). Jennings is also not a strong spot up shooter (hitting 36.7 percent of his shots) and struggles in half court isolation sets (shooting 26.2 percent).

Jennings is good; he’s a quality starting point guard. But he’s a couple steps below the league’s elite point guards and that’s not because he plays in Milwaukee.

If the Bucks want to keep him — and by all accounts they do, but both Mona Ellis and J.J. Redick are free agents this summer, too — they can match any offer he gets this summer. Jennings’ only real leverage is the threat he would sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Bucks, for about $4.5 million, play out next season then become an unrestricted free agent. That is what he was talking about with Spears, maybe taking that offer to give him a path out of Milwaukee.

But that leaves a lot of money on the table and is a huge risk — this summer Jennings is going to get offers in the $10 million to $12 million a year range for four years. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table to take a one-year deal. One freak injury could take all that money away. This is Jennings first contract after his rookie deal, his first big kick at the can, and that is one good players usually sign to get the big paydays and money in the bank. Then with their next deal they think about moving on.

But Jennings is talking big. He’s never lacked for self confidence.

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