Sports

Brandon Jennings: Stuck in No Man's Land

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Brandon Jennings has yet to land in a new NBA city after settling into a disappointing free agency period over the last few weeks. It looks more and more like he is going to re-sign with Milwaukee, a team he tried his best to find his way out of.

In the end, it seems to me that Jennings has one man to blame, Andrew Wiggins. Thanks to teams like Philadelphia, Sacramento, Phoenix and seemingly Boston looking to tank next season in order to make a run at Wiggins, already heralded the next superstar of the NBA, Jennings has found himself to be a man without a country so to speak.

Over the last four seasons, Jennings has never averaged less than 15.5 points per game and maintained a five assists per game average while running the Bucks often weak and poorly organized offense. He’s an 81% free throw shooter and a career 35% three point shooter. He’s got a 50+ point performance or two under his belt and is a big reason the Bucks have had any argument of relevancy over the last few seasons. But as he dipped his toes in the free agent pool this summer, he received very little interest in return.

I was convinced that Philadelphia would jump at the chance to sign a player like Jennings after trading away all-star point guard Jrue Holiday in order to acquire the rights to Nerlens Noel, the talented young center out of Kentucky who slipped from a clear No.1 pick in the draft to No.6 due to a torn ACL. But instead of looking to create a team that Noel can walk into with the opportunity to create a winner, the Sixers are creating one of the worst lineups in the league in an attempt to fail and bring in Wiggins.

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They aren’t the only team playing this game, but they were a clear fit for Jennings. Another home for him could have been in Dallas, but after Monta Ellis landed in Big D, it was unlikely the Mavericks were going to rush to recreate the Milwaukee Bucks of last year.

To Jennings’ surprise, interest in him around the rest of the league was not what he hoped. He thought his stock was sufficiently high to see him offered a contract that would allow him to brush off the Bucks’ qualifying offer as chump change, but instead he has been left lingering. He returns to a team that replaced Ellis with O.J. Mayo and retains a talented young center in Larry Sanders.

Jennings could just as easily play in Europe, where league standards are continuously rising and salary at the very least competitive with the $4.5 million the player will receive next season. But even he knows that disappearing to Europe could complicate a return and what his value will ultimately be upon returning could be questionable.

There is talk that he could demand a sign and trade deal, but the Bucks would be reluctant to do so knowing that they’d receive little of value after how he faired in the free agent market.  

For one more season, Jennings has no choice but to make the best of it with Milwaukee, hoping for at best a playoff berth and a painless first round exit at the hands of an Eastern Conference powerhouse like Indiana or Miami.