Here it is folks!
Adrian Wojnarowski (who else?) is reporting that mercurial point guard Brandon Jennings is close to getting his desired escape from Milwaukee--albeit at a greatly reduced price from the $12 million annual salary he was reportedly seeking weeks ago. Woj writes that Jennings' deal will be in the three-year, $24 million neighborhood, while the Pistons will send 21-year-old guard Brandon Knight back to Milwaukee. Here's the Twitter blow-by-blow:
Brandon Jennings' deal with Detroit expected to be in three-year range in excess of $25 million. Rest of trade details still being sorted— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 30, 2013
The Pistons will send Brandon Knight to the Bucks as part of the package for Jennings, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 30, 2013
Detroit will also send center Slava Kravtsov and forward Khris Middleton to Bucks as part of sign-and-trade for Jennings, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 30, 2013
The upside? Milwaukee avoided overpaying Jennings and salvaged something from a difficult situation by acquiring Knight, who will earn just $6.3 million combined over the next two seasons and still has the potential to develop into a solid two-way combo guard. The downside? The 23-year-old Jennings could still figure out how to be a really good basketball player, while Knight was unconvincing during his two-year audition in Detroit.
Thankfully, time is on the Bucks' side with Knight, as they effectively reset the clock on their point guard position by getting a player who is two years younger than Jennings and also has two more years before he hits restricted free agency. I'm not necessarily expecting Knight to become a star, but his size (6'3"), shooting ability (.380 and .367 from deep first two seasons) and work ethic mean that he should develop into a solid third guard at the very worst.
While Knight's inability to get to the rim or line kept his true shooting numbers at Jennings-levels the last two seasons (51.1%), he should at a minimum provide a huge boost defensively over the horror show we saw from Jennings the past two seasons. The Pistons were dramatically better defensively when he was on the court last season (7.7 pts/100 better) and his opponent numbers were also impressive. The bigger question is whether he can learn how to run an NBA offense, a topic that Grantland's Zach Lowe pondered in detail in January of this year. Be sure to check out the full article, but here's a sampler:
Knight has a clear future as a solid NBA rotation piece. He has already established himself as an above-average 3-point shooter, he's fast, and he works his tail off on the practice court and watching film. But Detroit cannot have watched the last two seasons and concluded the franchise point guard is already on the roster.
Knight is usually a half-second late reading the floor, which is admittedly a very tough thing for a normal human being to do in real time. Pause any pick-and-roll at the moment Knight darts around the pick, and you'll see 10 men in coordinated motion - Knight's big man rolling into space, an opposing big man rotating along the back line to stop him, and everyone else adjusting in kind. There are openings in that moment. The big man rolling might come open, and if he doesn't, that means the defense has tilted more than usual in his direction and left another of Knight's teammates open someplace else. The same patterns unfold again and again, and the best point guards learn to anticipate openings ahead of time, or even to coax the defense into surrendering a specific hole.
Knight can't do that - yet. You can see his eyes and brain working to understand how the defense is scrambling, and when you can see a point guard think like that - when he shows his work - that's bad. Sometimes Knight will spot the right pass, only he'll spot it a half-second too late, when the defense has already started to recover into position for a steal or deflection.