The Bucks may not be in a hurry to deal Brandon Jennings, but Marc Stein tweets that they should have some options if they do seek to move their restricted free agent-to-be ahead of the February 21 trade deadline:
Mavs, I'm told, do have interest in Brandon Jennings and will be in mix for him if Bucks opt to make RFA-to-be available b4 Feb. 21 deadline— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 13, 2013
Mavs NOT after Josh Smith but PG clearly been big worry in Big D. Trade targets, Cuban said Monday, must be worthy of "top three" on roster— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 13, 2013
Alright, so does the Mavericks' interest imply a trade is likely? As always, it depends on how motivated the Bucks are to deal and just how high Dallas' "level of interest" really is. As discussed a couple weeks back, the Mavericks are among only a handful of teams that might reasonably be expected to make a run at Jennings this summer, so their interest in a trade makes some sense. Dallas could probably free up enough cap space to make Jennings a significant offer in July, but his restricted status means the Bucks (or anyone else that acquires him before February 21) would have matching rights on any offer sheet he signs this summer. Jennings' modest cap hold ($4.3 million) would also allow the Bucks or any team that acquires him ample flexibility to use their cap space before inking Jennings to a new deal. So if Dallas wants Jennings there's a good reason to go after him now rather than wait for the summer.
It's the same situation the Mavericks will have with current point guards Darren Collison and Roddy Beaubois, both of whom would be of interest to the Bucks if they dealt Jennings. Neither Collison nor Beaubois have shown the same degree of star power (not to be confused with star production) as Jennings, though Collison has had a solid, efficient season in Dallas (58% true shooting, 16.7 PER) after losing the starting spot in Indiana to George Hill last season. He also won't command close to the eight figure salary Jennings will be expecting this summer, which is necessarily part of his appeal.
Collison isn't the only potential piece the Bucks might consider in a trade either, and all indications are that Dallas is looking to deal. O.J. Mayo's perimeter scoring is comparable to that of reported Bucks target J.J. Redick, Vince Carter is a relative bargain as a complementary scorer/shooter, and Shawn Marion continues to produce at a high level despite being just months shy of his 35th birthday. Mayo has every incentive to opt out of the $4.2 million player option he has for 13/14, so like Redick his value is constrained by the threat that he ends up bolting for big dollars elsewhere.
Dallas owes a first-round draft pick to the Thunder, but it is top-20 protected through 2017. Considering the Mav's current place in the standings, it seems like a safe bet they'll still own it this year (edit from Dan: I may have confused you (and myself) with an earlier edit. I don't believe Dallas can trade its own first-round pick this year, since the Thunder technically own the rights to it). But even if they were able to offer that pick as part of a package, we're still talking about a late lottery pick in all likelihood, and it's hard to pin down exactly how much other teams (or even the Bucks) value Jennings. Expecting a solid young point guard and a potential lottery pick in exchange for Jennings is probably wishful thinking at this point. Let's just say that the possibility of acquiring Jennings isn't exactly wowing Mavericks fans right now, but as always Jennings' value is highly subjective.
And where the Bucks themselves come out in valuing Jennings is probably the most fundamental question right now. John Hammond has understandably and consistently suggested the Bucks value him rather highly: they want him here long term, they'll match any offer sheets this summer, blah blah. You know the drill, and it's exactly what the Bucks should be saying publicly even if they're not yet convinced of Jennings' long-term credentials.
But the clock is also ticking for the Bucks to make a decision that is likely to shape the near-term direction of the franchise. Is Jennings the face of the franchise they want going forward, or merely the guy they're stuck with for the next few months?