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Bucks preseason schedule, Jennings in Taiwan, early East outlook

There's some Jennings footage in here somewhere Preseason kicks off October 5 vs. Chicago
The Bucks and Bulls figure to be the front-runners for the Central, so the rivalry might as well start early, right? That's what the schedule-makers must be thinking as the Bulls will make their way up I-94 for the preseason opener at the Bradley Center on October 5--just two agonizingly long months away. The Bucks split a pair of preseason matchups with Chicago last year

The Bucks will play two other games in-state, against Charlotte at the Resch Center in Green Bay October 9 and the MACC Fund game against Minnesota serving as the preseason finale on Friday, October 22. In between the bookend games at the BC, the Bucks will have another five games on the road against Detroit, Washington, Memphis, Minnesota and Cleveland. Brandon Jennings Takes China
It looks like Brandon Jennings had plenty of fun touring the Far East--even if he didn't always remember where he was.  

Reed: Delfino vs. the world
Not every Carlos Delfino story comes courtesy of our man Palomba. Just most of them. Today, we've got a nice piece from Truman Reed on Carlitos' basketball education in Argentina. Oh, and he's tweeting now, too.  

Oh, and how sweet is it that he's Carlos Delfino THE FIFTH?  

Thomsen: East's top contenders
Ian Thomsen profiles the East's top six teams, including your Milwaukee Bucks:

Point guard Brandon Jennings will have more passing options between newcomers Corey Maggette (who gives them a newfound presence at the free-throw line) and Drew Gooden (a versatile scorer and reliable rebounder) and a full year each from John Salmons and Andrew Bogut (health permitting). Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova figure to keep improving, and if coach Scott Skiles can wring production from Chris Douglas-Roberts and rookie power forward Larry Sanders, then this will be a deep and well-balanced team.

Pelton: A Matter of Length
Kevin Pelton provides some great perspective on free agent spending:

Looking over all the data, it appears the sweet spot for free-agent contracts is about three years. Past this, the risk escalates quickly. Predicting performance next season is hard enough, so trying to figure out what a player will be like five years down the line (or even whether they'll be healthy then) is nigh impossible. For stars, that risk is an acceptable part of acquiring an elite talent. Among the NBA's middle class, it's difficult to justify going much more than three years. A four-year deal can be justified because the expiring contract becomes valuable as a trade asset the last year, but five-year deals to marginal talents simply aren't worth it.

Not exactly what Bucks fans will want to hear after John Salmons and Drew Gooden landed $65 million in guaranteed money, but hardly surprising. The front-end might be solid value, but I wouldn't be the first person to suggest it's the back-end of those deals that look the diciest, particularly given Salmons is already 30 and Gooden will be on 29 when camp kicks off. 

I don't think the Bucks are naive about it either. Go back to all the Bucks' press conferences this summer and watch John Hammond underscore time and again their determination to get better and "not take a step back." To me it almost sounded like a disclaimer: "We wouldn't normally do this, but...well, gotta spend money to make money, right?" Let's hope so.

Bucksketball: Trader John
Jeremy looks at how Hammond's frequent dealing has helped turn the Bucks around.


ESPN Future Rankings: Bucks 18th
I can't say 18th is much to be excited about, but on the bright side it's 11 spots higher than the Bucks were ranked a year ago. Then again, I won't worry too much about a rating system that claims the Knicks have better players than the Bucks (200-180 in their arbitrary point system). 

The moves weren't entirely helpful for the long run. The Bucks overpaid Gooden and perhaps Salmons too, and they gave up future cap space to get Maggette.

But the Bucks look like a team that could be quite competitive in future seasons if things fall into place -- and if Jennings and Bogut continue to improve, they could be downright dangerous.