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Brandon Jennings Still Hoping For Extension

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Skiles and Jennings will have plenty to prove in 12/13
Skiles and Jennings will have plenty to prove in 12/13

JSOnline: Jennings has turnaround on his to-do list
We've reached the dog days of August, which makes it no surprise that Brandon Jennings (and most every other player in the league) is saying all the right things about the coming season. Among other things, Charles Gardner writes that Jennings knows what's at stake for the organization after two consecutive trips to the lottery, while Jennings is still hoping to conclude an extension to his rookie contract by the October 31 deadline.

"It would be something I’d love to get done with and over with so I don’t have to worry about it," Jennings said of the contract extension. "But the main thing is just to come into training camp a better player, a better leader ... just lead the team to the playoffs."

As we've said all along, the real question regarding a Jennings contract extension is not "will he be willing to stay in Milwaukee?" but "how much money do the Bucks have to throw his way to make it happen?" Given Herb Kohl's history of re-signing young starters and Jennings' central role--for better or worse--in the team's current identity, I'd be surprised if he's not inked to a long term deal...eventually.

Whether that happens before November is the big question. Obviously Jennings would like the security of having a deal locked up before the season, but that doesn't mean his demands won't be fairly exorbitant. At this point I'd be very surprised if he was willing to take anything less than $11-12 million annually over four seasons, which is a damn high number for a guy who isn't guaranteed to be a top ten player at his position (though I'd argue he definitely was last year). It's also conveniently right around the $11 million owed Monta Ellis, and something tells me that agent Bill Duffy won't be looking at the contracts of Goran Dragic (four years, $34 million) and Mike Conley (five years, $47 million) as the best comparables for his client, even if they're reasonable approximations of Jennings' on-court contributions.

Note that Jennings wouldn't be alone in looking for a contract that bakes in continued improvement. Jrue Holiday was reportedly looking for a max deal earlier this summer (good luck with that, Jrue!), while the Nuggets seem destined to give Ty Lawson at least as much (and likely more) than the four years, $42 million they gave Danilo Gallinari a year ago. Steph Curry and Tyreke Evans seem much less likely to sign this summer, but whoever does sign first will likely set an important precedent for the rest of the group.

Of course it's possible that doesn't happen until next summer, when everyone who hasn't signed an extension is due to hit restricted free agency. At that point Jennings and the rest of his 2009 brethren can let the market determine their value, which depending on the needs of teams with cap space could be good or bad. Considering the limited number of teams that usually have cap space to throw around, the depth of the 2009 point guard class could limit the bidding for players like Lawson, Jennings, Holiday, and Curry, leaving their incumbent teams to either bid against themselves and cough up big deals or risk alienating the player by driving a hard bargain.

SoundCloud | Bucks channel with Hammond season ticket-holder Q&A now has an official archive of all original audio content over at SoundCloud, including the season ticket-holder conference call that John Hammond did about a month ago (and which I hadn't seen posted previously). No shockers to be found, though anyone holding out hope that Herb Kohl will abandon the "compete for the playoffs every year" approach in favor of an OKC-style "stink for three years and pile up picks" philosophy might want to give it a listen. Quick summary: it's not happening, at least not now.

Hoop | The 2012-13 NBA Breakout Performers
Tobias Harris (#4) and Larry Sanders (#7) both make Darryl Howerton's list of potential breakout performers, with Harris pegged as a potential most improved player candidate. I doubt he'll get enough minutes to reach that status--even if the Bucks don't sign another guy who can play small forward, Mike Dunleavy and Luc Mbah a Moute both figure to see plenty of burn there when healthy. But there's no denying the maturity and flashes of brilliance that Harris showed as a 19-year-old rookie. Hat tip to Oilstriker for posting this first over in the FanPosts...I'll conveniently ignore that Jon Brockman also somehow made the list.

Behind the Buck Pass | Picking The Bucks' Starting Small Forward: Defense, Shooting Or Potential?
With Carlos Delfino officially heading to Houston, Preston Schmitt weighs the Bucks' contrasting options at small forward, which should prove to be the Bucks' most interesting positional battle heading into camp. My take: if you are going to give Mbah a Moute major minutes at small forward then you might as well start him; his offensive limitations are probably best masked when paired with a stretch four like Ersan Ilyasova, while his cutting and activity around the basket will probably be put to the most use playing with a pair of playmakers in the backcourt. And as Preston notes, starting Luc at SF means you have your best perimeter defender starting against the other team's best wing player. That leaves Dunleavy to retain his role as MVP of the bench, while Harris may have an uphill battle earning regular minutes while everyone is healthy.

Woelfel: Bucks still in market for big guard
Speaking of the wing position:

Bucksketball | Optimism reigns!
Well, sorta. I know our bud Jeremy Schmidt too well to accuse him of being a Bucks optimist, but even the most hardened cynic would agree with the premise of Jeremy's piece on why it's OK to feel good about Tobias Harris. Meanwhile, Eric Buenning more recently followed it up with a piece on being excited about the Bucks in general. It's August, people...we can save the negativity for November, right?