Written by: Matthew Blunk
Brandon Jennings has a nickname (and tattoo) - "Young Money."
And if Jennings has his way, it will be a very apt nickname before the upcoming NBA season.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the fourth-year Milwaukee Bucks point guard hopes to have a contract extension done before the regular season begins. Jennings is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and would be subject to restricted free agency next summer should he not reach an extension with the Bucks.
If Milwaukee hopes to retain Jennings and build the team around him and his skill set, they would be wise to work on a new deal for him. Restricted free agency and the "poison pill" offer sheets that go around the Association nowadays can be deadly. Bucks GM John Hammond has a decision to make.
Jennings is a decidedly undersized scoring guard, and somewhat of a "volume scorer." He jacks up plenty of shots but makes only some of them. Jennings can be a cocksure gunner with limited defensive ability. But his killer speed and hot shooting streaks can at times be a tremendous asset to the Bucks, a team that has always struggled to score under defense-first head coach Scott Skiles.
The Bucks have committed long-term, big money to forward Ersan Ilyasova, and traded franchise cornerstone center Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors last year for a guard eerily similar to Jennings in Monta Ellis. They selected forwards John Henson of North Carolina and Tobias Harris of Tennessee in the first round of the past two drafts. Building blocks are in place for this team, but Hammond and Skiles have to find a way to put them together and make it all work.
Can Jennings and Ellis coexist in the same backcourt? Should they extend Jennings and trade Ellis for draft picks and expiring contracts? Should they just tank and hope for the best in the Lottery?
The Bucks have talent - perhaps even enough to reach the playoffs as a bottom seed this season. But is that really good enough? Can this team contend for a title? Certainly not with their current roster. In this day and age, teams must have at least one or two superstars to even hope for title contention. The Bucks possess no such superstar.
Such are the breaks of being a small-market franchise in the NBA; a team in limbo, between competing deep into the postseason and choosing first in the draft.
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