It's always sunny in Milwaukee.
After all the rumors and offer sheets, the Milwaukee Bucks are back to square one, ready to pretend the previous 72 hours ceased to be.
Square one, of course, being Brandon Jennings, who is likely to be the team's only remaining major signing now that the Atlanta Hawks have reportedly matched the Bucks' four year, $32 million offer sheet extended to (and signed by) point guard Jeff Teague.
By now, you're well acquainted with the pros and cons of both players. Teague is more athletic, bigger, and more efficient as a finisher and overall offensive player. Jennings is a playmaker, protects the ball, and has better touch beyond the arc.
Now, with Teague out of the picture, Jennings can either take the one-year $4.3 million qualifying offer or whatever long-term contract Milwaukee slides across the table. Either option will be quite awkward for John Hammond and Co., and compelling (for better or torturously worse) for the rest of us.
A few other thoughts to ponder (or rue and lament, whatever) while we await Jennings and the Bucks' intertwined fates:
Suffice to say, this is one of the strangest situations we've ever seen involving a restricted free agent considered a franchise cornerstone not six months ago. Jennings, according to various reports, values his services at roughly $11 million per year, and on some level it's hard to criticize him for chasing dollar signs (we all would do the same).
However, all 30 NBA teams would beg to differ, so here we are. With that in mind, both parties have likely never been closer on the contract front than they are now. That's important to remember whenever this situation gets resolved.
Objectively, Teague is a slightly better option, but not by a lot. We're so conditioned negatively towards Jennings that we underestimate his actual value. He's not worth much (if any) more than the $8 million per year Teague would've received, but he's also not Roko Ukic. Jennings is not as bad as we think, but he's not as good as he thinks.
The 2013-14 Bucks are a better offensive team on paper than any Jennings has played with; it'll be interesting to see how Jennings responds (provided he's on the team, of course) when he isn't forced to carry the team's entire offense.
The Bucks have all of the leverage and all of the scrutiny. Jennings is supposed to aim high, but it appears Milwaukee doesn't believe he's worth Teague's offer sheet. That's about a $3million difference in perceived worth. If Jennings ultimately comes out with a fatter contract than four years, $32 million, the Bucks lose and look foolish for giving their second option more money than their first. I call that the Jim Hendry System of bidding against yourself.
This offseason has played out like an episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Whether Eric Bledsoe, Andrei Kirilenko or Jeff Teague, the future looks new, bright, and different, until sobriety sets in and reality reminds us it exists in the 21st minute.
Whatever happens, the "Welcome Back, Brandon!" press conference is going to be a visual and auditory treat rife with resigned superficiality.
We've ended the majority of these updates with "stay tuned" or "we'll see," and this one is no different.