Jennings-Ellis pact could be game-changer
OCT 01, 2012 9:18p ET
So he and Ellis came to an agreement before Bucks' training camp is set to start on Tuesday. They were going to make it work, no matter what that meant for their own games.
"Just the fact that everybody doesn't want it to work and doesn't think it can work, we came to an agreement that we'll sacrifice whatever just to win," Jennings said.
Only New York and Miami in the Eastern Conference had a pair with top-15 usage rates comparable to that of Jennings and Ellis -- neither of those teams had both in the backcourt. But to coexist and really move the Bucks forward this season, both Jennings and Ellis know that they may have to give up the ball on more occasions than they may have in the past.
For Jennings, focusing more on creating for others could mean the development necessary to reach elite status in the NBA. And for Ellis, it could mean finally finding the game-changing role he's always had the potential to fulfill.
"Whatever it takes," Ellis said. "If that means I have to sacrifice, if that means I have to go from scoring 20 points to scoring 15 points, whatever it takes. If they need me to get my assists up to nine or 10, whatever it takes for this team to win, I'm willing to do it."
And after a conversation between the two on Sunday night, that's a sentiment that Jennings is clearly ready to embrace. After all, the pair only had 22 games together last season, most of which they spent trying to "go with the flow". This year, Jennings says they know what's expected out of them.
"Thing about me and Monta, we feed off of each other," Jennings said. "I think that's going to be our biggest thing, just like it was last year . . . I think with a full training camp and us knowing each other's game and knowing if he's got it going that night, it's his turn, and if I got it going or anybody else got it going, we're just going to try to win.
"Me and Monta, we talked about and said everything is going to fall back to us, the good and the bad. So it's going to be up to us to set the tone for the team and just leave it out there every night on the floor."
Mbah a Moute to miss training camp: Hampered by an injured knee for the majority of last season, Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute had surgery on his right patella tendon in May to hopefully return at 100 percent this season.
Unfortunately, Mbah a Moute won't be back to 100 percent before training camp begins on Tuesday. And in order to carefully return without any further injury, Mbah a Moute will likely miss the entirety of Bucks training camp.
"It's getting better every day," Mbah a Moute said. "I probably wouldn't participate in training camp. That's as far as I know. Hoping to get back soon."
Added general manager John Hammond: "We don't have any expectations at this point. We're going to take it week to week and expect him when he does return to return 100 percent."
Without a timetable for his return, Mbah a Moute did say he's "pretty confident" that he'll be back for the beginning of the regular season. But with plenty of Bucks pushing for the starting small forward spot, Mbah a Moute may have some competition from guys like much-improved Tobias Harris and perennial sixth-man Mike Dunleavy.
For now though, Mbah a Moute is just looking forward to being completely healthy again.
"Obviously over the last year and a half that's been hurting me a lot and affecting my game," Mbah a Moute said. "Now I've addressed that, which was the big thing going into the summer. Now I'm just excited about being back out there and playing pain-free."
Finding minutes for everyone: With so many players now populating the Bucks' frontcourt, the team will undoubtedly have more depth and versatility on the low block. But will they be able to find enough minutes to give everyone the playing time that they deserve?
It's a question that even coach Scott Skiles isn't ready to answer with full confidence.
"It's going to be a challenge," Skiles said. "We talk about it every day. We've got seven big guys that have played or are capable of playing well in an NBA game. The way the game is played now, some games, it's hard to get three of them out there. You have a well-intentioned gameplan, and then all of a sudden, five minutes into it, Danny Granger is playing the four. You gotta adjust . . . It's something we've talked to them about . . . It's going to be a challenge, but we got to come in, look at the guys, see what guys can do and how they can fit. We don't want to be in a position with guys looking over their shoulder every night and wondering when they're going to play . . . But the reality is there's going to be nights probably when there may be three guys that deserve to play in the game that didn't play at all or didn't get the minutes that they wanted."
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