Future of Brandon Jennings with Bucks still uncertain

When
the Atlanta Hawks decided to bring point guard Jeff Teague back into their
future plans by matching the offer sheet he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks,
all eyes immediately turned back to Brandon Jennings.

Will the young point guard and restricted free agent be able to strike a deal with the Bucks? That question doesn’t have an answer.

Though reports have come out in the past few days saying Jennings is “unhappy” and does not want to return to the Bucks after the team tried to sign his replacement, Jennings took to Twitter late Sunday to share his side of the story.

“Whatever you hear in the media isn’t true, I haven’t talked to anybody since the Season was over. Thank you!

“And I will continue not to talk to anyone.”

The 23-year-old has a history of posting things to social media and then deleting them, but Jennings seems sincere when he tries to dispel rumors floating around.

Does that mean he’s destined to return to Milwaukee? 

The Bucks still do hold leverage in the situation. First, Jennings is a restricted free agent, meaning Milwaukee can match any offer sheet he’d sign with another team, just like Atlanta did with Teague. After any offer would be signed, the Bucks would have 72 hours to match, work out a sign-and-trade or let Jennings go.

Just before free agency began, Bucks general manager John Hammond told FOXSportsWisconsin.com that he planned to match any offer sheet and “100 percent” planned to bring Jennings back.

Where the Bucks also hold leverage is they are one of the only teams, if not the only team, still in search of a starting point guard. The market was dry for point guards when free agency opened and the few teams needing a floor general either took one in the draft or signed another player.

Jennings doesn’t have many places to go in free agency, but that doesn’t close the door on a sign-and-trade. Again, the Bucks hold all of the leverage there. They hold the asset and don’t have to deal Jennings unless they feel the trade will benefit the franchise. Teams over the luxury tax would not be able to deal for Jennings in a sign-and-trade.

Milwaukee doesn’t necessarily need to add a point guard. While the Bucks likely would want to add a starting caliber point guard to the equation, veteran Luke Ridnour could start with rookie Nate Wolters and Ish Smith as the backups. It wouldn’t be an ideal situation for a team looking to compete for the playoffs, but could be an option.

There isn’t much left in terms of free agents at the point guard position. Former Wisconsin star Devin Harris had his three-year contract with Dallas called off after X-rays revealed a dislocated toe on his left foot. Though the three-year deal is off, reports have Harris and the Mavericks working toward a smaller contract.

That leaves Nate Robinson, Beno Udrih and Mo Williams as the top remaining free agents. Robinson isn’t really a true point guard and comes with his own baggage, while Udrih is nothing more than a backup. Williams’ return to Milwaukee is intriguing, but he is 30 years old and has missed significant time recently with injuries.

The last resort for the Bucks and Jennings is the one-year, $4.5 million qualifying offer. Milwaukee had to make a qualifying offer to Jennings to be able to keep him as a restricted free agent. If he chooses, Jennings could accept the one-year contract, play out the season and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Milwaukee could still trade Jennings if he accepts the qualifying offer, but Jennings would then have veto power over any potential deal.

There still are plenty of ways the marriage between Jennings and the Bucks could end amicably or the two parties could renew their vows for one year or multiple years. Only time will tell, but options for both sides are starting to run thin.

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