The Milwaukee Bucks and Brandon Jennings have until Oct. 31 to reach an early long-term contract extension before the young guard hits restricted free agency, but nothing is imminent at this point. John Hammond and company also have until the end of the season to either convince Monta Ellis to exercise his $11 million player option for 2013-14 or sign him to an extension before he reaches free agency. Meanwhile, veteran role players Mike Dunleavy, Beno Udrih and Samuel Dalembert are playing the season out on expiring deals. Milwaukee's roster is truly up in the air for '13-14 and beyond.
What we know about a possible Ellis opt-out: It makes perfect sense for Ellis to refuse an extension and decline his player option for '13-14. Any extension would necessarily be tied to the terms of his current deal -- the CBA imposes limits on escalating salaries to avoid severe back-/front-loading -- so with Ellis entering his prime (he turns 27 on Oct. 26), this is probably his last chance to test the market and get a fat contract.
Aging curves for shooting guards typically peg 28 as the prime, but Monta isn't much of an outside shooter and his reliance on elite athleticism might make for a tougher slide and an earlier-than-normal prime stretch. That means if he were to extend his deal with the Bucks, it's possible (probable?) he wouldn't find offers with eight-figure annual salaries on the other side of that deal. Why not use his leverage to get to the open market now -- there's always one desperate NBA general manager willing to overpay for a scorer. Could it still be the Bucks? Sure. Remember how the John Salmons situation went down?
If you aren't quite understanding the capanomics of the extension stuff, Frank handled this back in August when Gery Woelfel hinted that Monta is planning to opt out this summer:
It's important to note the limitations prescribed by the CBA [with regards to an extension]: a new deal could not be for more than four seasons including the two Ellis has left on his current deal, and the starting salary in the first new season (14/15) would be limited to $11.8 million, or 107.5% of the $11 million he's owed in each of the final two years of his contract. Overall, figure around four years and $47 million for the hypothetical extension's max value, with two years and $25ish million incremental to what the Bucks owe him over the remaining two years. That's more than most of us would want to pay Ellis, but my guess is that Ellis would rather take his chances fishing for a bigger payday in free agency than commit to an uncertain future with a modest raise in Milwaukee.
What we know about a possible Jennings extension: Mark Stein of ESPN has passed along his thoughts and grapevine chatter about possible extensions for players from the 2009 NBA Draft class, and Jennings is slotted in the "unlikely" category:
Extension grapevine scuttle w/buzzer 25 days out: Lawson (DEN) & Holliday (PHI) likely to get deals; Jennings (MIL) & DeRozan (TOR) unlikely— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 6, 2012
Lawson has long been considered the most likely of the '09 point guard class to re-up and reportedly is close to signing a new four year deal, though the Nuggets' offer of $11 million per season appears south of what it will take to lock him up by the end of the month. David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com recently added that things have been "pretty quiet" in terms of talks between the Bucks and Jennings' representatives:
"Pretty quiet," said a source involved in the discussions on Sunday. Don't think anything will happen here, given the Bucks' payout to Ersan Ilyasova over the summer and their recent deals with Drew Gooden and John Salmons. And in this case, Jennings may be more interested in seeing exactly how green other pastures are.
What would it really mean if the Bucks waited for Jennings to hit restricted free agency? Will they strike before Oct. 31 and render that process moot? We discussing contract issues with Jennings, Ellis and even Larry Sanders in the latest episode of our Deer In Your Ear podcast series. Enjoy:
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