If Rajon Rondo makes $12 million per season, what is Brandon Jennings worth?
SI.com: Bucks reportedly denied Blazers permission to interview John Hammond (via Behind the Buck Pass)
Putting an end to speculation about Portland's interest in Bucks GM John Hammond (for now), Sam Amick reports that the Bucks recently turned down the Blazers request to interview Hammond for their vacant GM position.
While nominally it would have been a lateral move, you can only assume Hammond would have been very interested in exploring a potential multi-year deal with a deep-pocketed organization that could pay him up to double his current salary. Instead, he'll finish up the final year of his contract in Milwaukee, with Herb Kohl having made clear last Friday that he's not currently interested in extending either Hammond or head coach Scott Skiles.
It's really not an ideal situation for anyone, which is precisely why there's been so much grumbling among fans. Still, Kohl appears intent on making due with what he has for now, even if he's primed the pump for wholesale changes a year from now (or sooner). Essentially the Bucks' braintrust has a year to prove itself to Kohl, with Skiles drawing the toughest task--having to manage a roster without the organization's long-term endorsement. Beyond that, the most obvious question is how the Bucks will balance Kohl's usual mandate of making the playoffs without being overly short-sighted (that's still a thing, right?). Making good decisions on that front is tough enough as is, but it's even more difficult when your GM and coach have to impress now in order to earn new contracts. Stay tuned...
Bucks.com: Luc Mbah a Moute Undergoes Successful Surgery
Thankfully no surprises here.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230) underwent successful right knee surgery on Friday to address his patellar tendonitis, General Manager John Hammond announced today. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. Mbah a Moute is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for training camp in October.
Same goes for free agent Carlos Delfino and his groin muscle injury, though the 29-year-old Argentine is more concerned at the moment with recovering in time for the London Olympics. Delfino faces a 6-8 week spell on the sideline, with the Olympics running from July 27 to August 12.
Bucks.com: Pointed review
Truman Reed checks in with Brandon Jennings on a variety of subjects--the joys of playing with Monta Ellis, how Ersan Ilyasova might be padding his rebounding stats and how he might change things up his summer routine in 2012.
"As far as workouts. I’ll know how to pace myself," Jennings said. "During the lockout, I didn’t really know how to pace myself. I was going crazy with the workouts and playing everywhere.
"This summer will be great, just knowing that training camp starts Sept. 27."
OnMilwaukee.com: Bucks' Brandon Jennings on verge of payday or exit (via Bucksketball)
Speaking of Jennings, Jim Owczarski chimes in on his potential summer contract extension, including some interesting quotes from the end-of-season media sessions. For those worried about Jennings wanting to bolt for greener pastures, his comments last week might provide some reassurance--basically he sounds like every other guy on a rookie contract looking to get paid:
"I mean, why not?," he said. "If everything's right and my agent comes back and says this is what we should do, then I'm going to do it.
"At the end of the day, it's an NBA team. And if you ask any guy in the NBA 'Would you want to be the face of a franchise?' I'm sure 80-percent of them would say 'Yes' no matter where they're at."
So to recap: Brandon will stay if his agent says it's a good idea, which puts him in the same boat as every other NBA player who wants to be a) paid and b) given the keys to the car. Hey, as long as we don't have to hear people moan about Milwaukee winters driving players away...
And for better or worse, Jennings at this point is the face of the Bucks, even if recent arrival Monta Ellis has forced him to share the spotlight a bit. But being the face of the organization doesn't compel the Bucks to overpay him now. If he doesn't sign an extension this summer, he would only be a restricted free agent in 2013 and would need to risk accepting a one-year qualifying offer in order to hit unrestricted free agency in 2014. That typically only happens to injury risks (like Greg Oden) or in-between players that teams are hesitant to really commit to (see Nick Young). So based on the history of good-to-great players coming off rookie deals, you can be confident the Bucks will be able to retain Jennings if they really want to.
Speaking on the topic last Friday, Hammond quite logically characterized a Jennings extension this summer as nice but not required (though some valuable context was lost in the Twitter-blasting that followed). Hammond referred to it as a two-way street, and that's exactly what it is. If the Bucks are confident Jennings' price tag could rise next summer, then they'll certainly think longer and harder about making him a generous offer this summer, but even then they would have matching rights on any offer received in 2013. In other words, there's no doomsday scenario in the event nothing happens this summer.
Which raises the obvious follow up question: what will Brandon need to be paid? I certainly don't foresee Jennings' camp needing max money as suggested in the article, but they similarly don't have a burning need to get something locked up just for the sake of it. Security is nice, but you can guess Jennings and agent Bill Duffy will be working under the assumption that Jennings continues to improve and will want to price his next deal accordingly. For reference, Russell Westbrook's extension starting next year will likely be worth close to $80 million over five years, numbers that are certainly out of Jennings' league. Meanwhile, three-time all-star Rajon Rondo is owed an average of $12 million as part of his extension that runs through the next three years.
The Bucks would be wise to be cautious, though their challenge is figuring out what a cautious price tag actually is. As we've discussed in the comments, offering anything short of $8 million per season (Mike Conley money) likely won''t move the ball forward, and in my head I keep coming back to $10 million as a figure that might need to be reached to make Jennings and company sign on the dotted line. Maybe that's optimistic--after all, it's always easier to be rational in May. But it''s also a serious chunk of change for a player who is unlikely to ever be a top five player at his position, but it may well be the long-term minimum price of admission to keep Jennings in Milwaukee. And that's what makes this such a difficult decision. How tradeable would Jennings currently be if he made $10 million annually? Could the Bucks actually find a better way to spend $10 million than by giving Jennings a handsome extension?
The Bucks won't be alone in working through some of these issues over the summer. Aside from Jennings, the class of 2009 also includes Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Steph Curry, Jeff Teague, Tyreke Evans, and Darren Collison, though my guess is that at most one or two of them will actually sign extensions this summer. Lawson would seem like the best bet, and the first deal to be sign will likely play a crucial role in setting the market value for everyone else. You never know how much money the Nuggets might throw at Lawson, but for the Bucks' (and every other teams') sake, let's hope they don't break the bank.