Brandon Jennings might not be long for Milwaukee, after all.
The star point guard has told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports that he wants to be paid big money and see a lot of roster changes to make the Bucks a championship contender if he is to stay with them beyond next season:
Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN
Bucks G Brandon Jennings tells Y! Sports he's considering exercising option to become unrestricted free agent in '14. http://t.co/GJXDI9zvZt3/9/2013, 12:53:20 AM
"If I take the qualifying offer and become an [unrestricted] free agent [in 2014] there is no way I am coming back. There is no way."
Give Jennings credit for being honest, though you have to wonder what it does to benefit him right now. He is just 23 years old and, if he doesn't sign a long-term extension, will hit free agency at the age of 24.
Is this just a simple negotiating tactic?
Bucks general manager John Hammond is also quoted in Spears' piece as saying that he understands exactly what Jennings is doing and isn't bothered by it:
It's not unfair to make that statement if he feels there is not a deal fair to him this summer. I would be surprised if it happens. But he is operating within the [collective bargaining] rules. I'm not taken aback. It's a natural discussion to have.
Everyone knows that someone is going to pay Jennings big money, whether it be Milwaukee or another team. He is averaging 18.4 points, 6.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game this season. For a 23-year-old, those numbers are outstanding.
However, it is not like Jennings is without his flaws. He is shooting a paltry 40.3 percent from the field and 39.5 percent for his career. He does shoot well from three-point range, however, and is stroking it from deep at a 37.9 percent clip this season.
If this is just a negotiating tactic, perhaps the front office in Milwaukee will listen to Jennings' threat and try to do something about it. But if the team doesn't want to/isn't able to bring in high-level talent—not to mention pay Jennings what he will want—it could easily move on without him.
The Bucks are 30-29 entering play on Friday, good for eighth in the Eastern Conference. Jennings is their best and most popular player, so it would be a major blow from a public-relations perspective if he were to leave. But the Bucks still have plenty of time to figure out how they are going to approach the situation.