The Milwaukee Bucks want Brandon Jennings back and will use any of several methods to ensure he remains with the franchise, according to General Manager John Hammond. The Bucks picked Jennings with the 10th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, but he's set to become a restricted free agent this summer under the standard confines of an NBA rookie contract.
The Bucks were likely to re-sign either Monta Ellis or Jennings, but when the former told the Bucks he wasn't interested in coming back and that he'd opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent, their options slimmed from two to one.
Hammond said at a press conference introducing the team's draft picks that the team has made its qualifying offer to Jennings, a one-year, $4.3 million deal that makes him a restricted free agent rather than allowing him to enter unrestricted free agency.
This leaves one of three options: the first, and by far the least likely, is that Jennings takes the offer. The second is that the team negotiates with Jennings and eventually gets him to sign an extension. The third, last ditch effort is that if an agreement can't be reached, Jennings signs an offer sheet with another team.
Restricted free agency means the Bucks would have the option to match, however, and Hammond told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the team would end up doing just that.
"It's our intention for Brandon Jennings to remain a Milwaukee Buck," Hammond said Friday. "We're hoping to negotiate with him fairly through the July process.
"At the conclusion of our negotiations if we have not reached a deal and they choose to go out and seek an opportunity in the open market, our intention then would still be to match."
It'll be interesting to see how true to those words the Bucks are because another team could sign Jennings to an inadvisably large deal this offseason in hopes Hammond will pony up and match, hurting Milwaukee's chances to sign other free agents due to Jennings' new large contract. If a team would try that, though, they'd be taking the risk of being stuck with the contract if the Bucks decide not to match.
Jennings averaged 17.5 points per game this season for Milwaukee to go along with a career high 6.5 assists and he was a key cog as the team made the playoffs for only the second time in the past seven years -- although they were quickly dispatched by the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.
As Brew Hoop writes, though, fans weren't particularly thrilled with Jennings because his fourth year in the league was somewhat of a dropoff from his third. With Ellis gone, however, Jennings seems somewhat essential to the Bucks' hopes of fielding a competent team next season.