Brandon Jennings remains a man in limbo. The ongoing saga between the Bucks and their 23-year-old point guard has been complicated by reports of contentious negotiations and, more noticeably, the recent Jeff Teague diversion. When Atlanta matched Milwaukee's 4-year, $32 million offer sheet, it dumped the Bucks right back to square one in their search for a point guard. Despite insisting they would make every effort to nail down a long-term contract with Jennings this summer (and match the offer of any team willing to do the same), it seems the Bucks have since grown apprehensive about moving forward with the de facto Face of the Franchise for the past four years.
The "drama" has put both Jennings and the Bucks in a strange situation where both parties seems eager for a resolution but apparently unwilling to make much movement in any direction. Judging by a handful of reports over the past week or so, representatives for the Bucks and Jennings appear to be far apart in terms of judging Brandon's value. Thanks (or no thanks) to his RFA status, Jennings' options were limited. If he wanted a rich deal but found the Bucks unwilling to fork one over, he'd have to find another team with greater interest. Thus far, that's been a futile effort--indeed, it's been shocking how little interest in Jennings there's been. Those few rumored to have even a passing desire at offering him a deal have largely seen their needs filled or their cap space disappear, leaving the Bucks as the only convenient suitors. By virtue of owning his Bird Rights, the Bucks have no financial restrictions against giving Jennings a large multi-year contract, but their desire sure seems to have waned.
That brings us to the here and now, which remains as muddled as ever. The Bucks shored up their depth at point guard a bit, acquiring Luke Ridnour from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-team deal, but they're presumably still searching for a starter to lead the coming year's inevitable playoff push. There's been little-to-no word from Jennings' camp on the status of his demands. With the one-on-one game held at a draw, it's no wonder things have started popping up from the outside:
Whispers increasing at Vegas Summer League that Bucks are talking to Pistons about Jennings' sign and trade.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) July 15, 2013
First off, we can acknowledge that Everyone's Favorite Bucks Beat Writer hasn't exactly been on his game this offseason, so take these reports as you will. The Detroit Pistons look to be making a serious run at the playoffs this season, inking Josh Smith to a 4-year, $54 million contract to augment an up-and-coming roster. They've got a pair of young bigs with serious potential in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and now they've added first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a backcourt featuring Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey. Jennings would probably represent an upgrade for their roster, especially paired with two excellent interior scorers like Smith and Monroe. But two things need to be true for the Pistons to go after Jennings: First, they have to be willing to pay him big money. Second, they have to be willing to give something to Milwaukee for the right to do it. Had Milwaukee found a way to backfill the starting PG position without Jennings, he might have been available for relatively little. Now? They're sure to look for the most generous offer out there before parting ways with him.
Of course, the whole Pistons angle might be moot:
League source: #Pistons and Bucks haven't had any conversations about a Brandon Jennings sign-and-trade— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) July 15, 2013
Still, that doesn't quite slam the door shut. Either Woelfel or Goodwill must be wrong, and even if there haven't been talks yet, it doesn't preclude interest on Detroit's part. But for now, there's very little smoke here, so perhaps it's best to leave the glass over the fire alarm untouched.
On the closer-to-home front, the stalemate remains in place between Jennings and the Bucks. HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler reports that negotiations are ongoing but nothing is close, so unless somebody caves or an external party provides a break, we could be here a while. There's also a report from Sporting News' Sean Deveney that Jennings flat-out doesn't want to play in Milwaukee next year. It's understandable that Jennings might have been irked by the Bucks' pursuit of Jeff Teague (and maybe even the Ridnour acquisition), but truthfully the article could probably be accurately written as "Jennings doesn't want to play for team unwilling to offer him $12 million annually."
So here we are, watching things unwind like a slow clock ticking toward next season. With most teams capped-out at this point, there's no real rush for the Bucks to get things resolved with haste, much as they might want to have the roster filled out as soon as possible. Barring any other solution, the Bucks' qualifying offer can remain in place until October 1st, after which it can be withdrawn without losing RFA rights on Jennings. They're free to continue negotiating on a long-term deal past that date, should it get that far, but the qualifying offer is likely to be off the table at that point. I doubt many people expect it to get that far, but Jennings has never been one to follow convention. Stay tuned.