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Woelfel: Monta Ellis Still Expected To Opt Out, Brandon Jennings Extension Not Close

WSSP: Woelfel not expecting Monta Ellis back after this season (h/t RealGM)
Sitting in on WSSP's Wickett and Chuck, Gery Woelfel reiterated his expectation that Monta Ellis will not be back in Milwaukee after the 12/13 season while also raising doubt about the Bucks' efforts to re-sign Brandon Jennings to an extension this summer.

There's still some rumblings that they might be interested in making a significant trade. A lot of it hinges on where they feel they're going to go with Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings. If Ellis gives them a clear indication that he's not coming back (after 2013), it wouldn't shock me if they traded him. In fact I would encourage them to trade Monta Ellis because he's got a player option after next year.

[Freimund asks if the two sides have neogitated[ They have talked, yeah. Neither party is talking about what they're saying. But everyone I've talked to in the Monta Ellis camp says he's not coming back after next year.

Woelfel suggested similar feelings from Ellis' camp earlier this year when he first arrived in Milwaukee, and it's not clear how aggressively the Bucks have worked to extend Ellis to begin with. It's important to note the limitations prescribed by the CBA on that front: 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.

It's a similar situation to when John Salmons became a free agent in the summer of 2010; the Bucks had attempted to extend Salmons by having him opt in to the final year of his deal and extend off of that, but he stood to make more money by becoming a free agent and then re-signing as a Bird free agent. The same rules apply for Ellis--he could extend now and get it over with, but he could also re-sign for more money a year from now, or walk off into the sunset and sign elsewhere.

And as Woelfel suggests, the reality is that it's probably good news for the Bucks if Ellis turns down a big money extension this summer, freeing the Bucks to focus on other options while encouraging them to shop Ellis well in advance of next February's deadline. Heck, we've been campaigning for a trade since the beginning of the summer, but the presumption has been that the Bucks first wanted to give the Jennings/Ellis pairing a real go this fall. My guess is that we'll still see that pairing as the Bucks' starting backcourt on opening night, but you'd hope that the Bucks would become more aggressive in shopping Ellis if/when it becomes clear that he's not coming back in 13/14.

Woelfel also suggests the Bucks have not made any serious offers to extend Brandon Jennings, which is a little more surprising but also not shocking given Jennings can't become an unrestricted free agent until 2014 at the earliest. As Dan previously outlined, the Bucks don't have to do anything with Jennings this summer, so they could instead let him play out this season and then address a new deal when he hits restricted free agency a year from now. Each approach brings its own risks, though it's also worth noting that the Bucks could begin considering a Jennings deal more seriously if/when they realize Ellis won't sign.

Last year's lockout limbo seemed to bring pickup footage of Brandon Jennings almost every other day; this summer not so much, though that's to be expected given Jennings and everyone else have their day jobs to look forward to this summer. But Brandon's still having some fun, as evidenced by his gig coaching one of the Elite 24 high school all-star teams last weekend and the pickup fun he had with the youngsters in the week leading up to it (see above, via Slam). | Milwaukee Bucks offseason report podcast
Jeremy Schmidt and I chatted with our friend Matt Moore from CBS Sports about the Bucks' summer to date, why Bucks fans reacted to the Ersan Ilyasova signing so cynically, what John Henson's impressive summer league means. and what it would take for the Bucks to hit the reset button. Jeremy's part is at the beginning and my segment starts at around the 13 minute mark.

Ball Don't Lie | Brandon Jennings’ quest to prove he and Monta Ellis can lead Bucks to playoffs has to start on D
Brew Hoop favorite Dan Devine chimes in on the prospects for a Jennings/Ellis backcourt with the help of some really interesting data-mining from their time together last season.

With Jennings and Ellis darting into passing lanes and breaking down opponents off the dribble, the Bucks scored 2.5 more fast-break points and 6.6 more points in the paint per 48 minutes with them on the floor together than on the season as a whole. But with the tandem turning the ball over and failing to provide much resistance on the perimeter, they gave up even more (2.7 more per-48 on the break, 7.9 more per-48 in the paint) to turn in net-negative stats in those categories over their 601 shared minutes.

FS Wisconsin | Bucks announce 70 games in HD
No surprises here: most (but not all Bucks games will be on FS Wisconsin this year, and all of them will be in HD. And for the games they won't be broadcasting, Dakota Schmidt runs down the list of what you might be missing over at Behind the Buck Pass.

ESPN: Eastern Conference Forecast
ESPN's poll of 100 contributors predicts the Bucks will end up in an awfully familiar (and just plain awful) spot in the East this year.