Free Agency Rumors: Bucks and Hawks discuss Brandon Jennings/Jeff Teague swap?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

All had been quiet on the Brandon Jennings front over the past week, with most expecting Jennings and the Bucks to eventually thrash out a new contract for the Bucks' mercurial 23-year-old guard. But ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Bucks and Hawks may have a curveball up their sleeve.

UPDATE: Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also chimed in on the rumors this morning, though at this point it doesn't sound like he knows much more than the rest of us.

I hear that there are many Monta Ellis rumors. I would say at this point they are just rumors. Some of them don't make sense to me. I don't see the Hawks using much of their remaining cap space on one player - but I could be wrong. I'm also not sure that Jeff Teague going to the Bucks in a trade could happen. Stay tuned on those fronts.

Now here's the original story:

If you're one of the many Bucks fans who were hoping for a clean slate in the backcourt this summer, we may have a glimmer of hope for you.

While the smart money to date has been on the Bucks eventually re-signing restricted free agent guard Brandon Jennings, ESPN's Marc Stein reported late on Sunday night that the Hawks and Bucks had discussed a potential swap of young point guards:

Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com that the Hawks and Bucks have in recent days discussed a sign-and-trade deal to land Brandon Jennings in Atlanta and send fellow restricted free agent Jeff Teague to Milwaukee to reunite with former Hawks coach Larry Drew. ESPN.com reported early in free agency that the Bucks, at Drew's behest, had interest.

If those sign-and-talks progress to the serious stage, sources said, Atlanta would inevitably have to rescind its longstanding interest in Ellis, knowing he and Jennings realistically couldn't play together again given how poorly they functioned as a backcourt duo in Milwaukee last season.

As background, the weekend rumormill had the Hawks and Ellis reportedly zeroing in on a new deal worth as much as $10 million annually to bring Ellis to Atlanta, but Monta has reportedly had other suitors including the Nuggets and Kings. Good luck to any team forking over that kind of change for Monta, who despite his immense talents has never quite figured out how to translate that into any sort of consistency in the "efficiency" and "winning basketball games" departments.

Both Jennings and the Bucks let their mutual interest be known at the outset of free agency, but since then there's been little talk of progress and even less of interest in Jennings from other teams. Meanwhile, Teague has voiced frustration over the Hawks' unwillingness to engage in substantive negotiations, while Atlanta also just drafted 19-year-old point guard Dennis Schröder.

A fresh start could be a good thing for all parties, though there may also be a fair bit of grass-is-always-greener mentality at play. While Teague has steadily improved in each of his four seasons in Atlanta and has proven a significantly better defender than Jennings, he doesn't have Jennings' ability to take over games and doesn't have the look of a guy who will ever be a top 5-10 point guard. Though he has a nice in-between game and is capable of spectacular finishes around the rim, he's mostly a spot-up guy from outside (35.8% on only 3.0 attempts) and gets to the line rather rarely. In total that has made him a lower-volume, moderate efficiency scorer, though he's also become increasingly adept as a distributor (7.2 apg last year) under the tutelage of new Bucks assistant Nick Van Exel.

The biggest impact for the Bucks would likely be on the defensive end, where the Bucks were an almost incomprehensible 9.2 pts/100 possessions worse with Jennings on the court a year ago after suffering an even worse 10.8 pts/100 dip in 11/12. Here it's not even so much what Teague does right (he was about neutral by those metrics), but what Jennings has been doing so terribly wrong. And don't blame Jennings' defensive issues on his pairing with Ellis, either--Monta actually had a net positive impact overall and his defensive impact was only -2.0 pts/100. The strange part is that Jennings' opponent numbers and defensive Synergy stats aren't nearly as tragic, but for whatever reason the Bucks over the past two seasons have been a terrible team when he's on the court and a good one when he's off it. All that would understandably be enough to satisfy Bucks fans desperate for a more reliable, defensively capable option at point guard, but don't expect Teague to be a savior either.


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
12/13 - B. Jennings 80 36.2 6.2 15.6 39.9 2.2 5.8 37.5 2.9 3.5 81.9 0.7 2.3 3.1 6.5 2.5 1.6 0.1 1.9 17.5


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
12/13 - Jeff Teague 80 32.9 5.5 12.2 45.1 1.1 3.1 35.9 2.5 2.8 88.1 0.3 1.9 2.3 7.2 2.9 1.5 0.4 2.3 14.6

As for the probability of a deal actually happening? Well, it's not clear from Stein's report how likely this is to progress to something serious, or if it's merely a scenario that the teams have thrown around. So while it says something that both sides would even find it worth exploring, four sides would have to be in agreement here: the Hawks would have to prefer Jennings and be able to work out an agreement with him, while the Bucks would have to prefer Teague and be able to work out an agreement with him. Then both sides would have to still feel the same way after they've agreed to contracts and come back to make the final deal happen (which I'd guess would likely just be a straight swap).

Note that this would also seem to force both teams to ante up their offers rather than sit back and wait things out, which could increase both guys' valuations from a salary-standpoint. That's one part of this that should make both fanbases a bit wary. Depending on the final value of the deals, it seems feasible cap-wise so long as both teams remain far enough under the cap, but with rumors flying fast and furious it's worth remembering that things change quickly. But that's the fun, right?

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