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Bucks still interested in Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders sprains ankle with Team USA, John Henson earns Vegas praise

The Bucks and Brandon Jennings might still have a future together, a sprained ankle is expected to keep Larry Sanders out of the remainder of the Team USA minicamp, and John Henson's strong week in Vegas made him a unanimous favorite in the desert for the second straight season.

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HOOPSWORLD | Bucks still interested in Jennings...just not in overpaying
Steve Kyler reports that Brandon Jennings' return hasn't been ruled out by the Bucks--but it has to be at the right price. There's also that whole bit about Jennings actually signing on the dotted line (details!), but personally I'm glad to hear the Bucks are both holding firm on their valuation of Jennings without completely ruling out the possibility of bringing him back.

Both Jennings and the Bucks have entertained sign-and-trade scenarios, but sources close to the situation say Milwaukee is not going to sandbag their season to move Jennings for basically nothing and that any deal made would have to return a legitimate starting point guard.

Both sides are talking, and a deal to keep Jennings in Milwaukee could be had in the $8 million per season range. The question is will Jennings take a deal at that price? He wants significantly more considering his peers received deals in the $11 to $12 million per season range last year by way of extensions.

Most of the debate about Jennings has seemingly focused around three possibilities: 1) a sign-and-trade (though no one seems to have an idea who would be interested) 2) a long-term deal that most assume would be four years and worth between $8 million (what the Bucks want) and $12 million annually (what Jennings wants) and 3) the qualifying offer worth $4.5 million for one year (which should be a last resort for both sides).

I get that many Bucks fans at this point are taking an "anyone-but-Brandon" philosophy, but even a skeptic like myself still considers Jennings an asset that shouldn't simply be given away. So what happens if there isn't a sign-and-trade market for Jennings that nets the Bucks a quality starter (say a Kyle Lowry-ish guy)? While that might be the best-case scenario for everyone, it will require a third party to show enough interest in Jennings that they pay him AND give up something of value for the privilege of doing so. Right now there aren't any takers, though as the summer drags on I'd guess Jennings' camp would lower their asking price for other teams (if they haven't done so already).

So what about Jennings returning? I still view the QO as a worst-case for both sides: it leaves the Bucks with a guy who a) is likely bolting without compensation as soon as he can next summer b) will be dogged all seasons by obvious questions about how much he doesn't want to be in Milwaukee c) can't be traded easily because he'll have a no-trade clause and d) will have little trade value because he's expiring and won't carry Bird rights over to his new team. Sure, he should be motivated to play well, but the same should have been true last year, right? And if he does play well, then how exciting will it be to see him walk for nothing next summer? Bottom line: let's stop acting like the QO is a good solution for anyone.

That leaves a new multi-year deal as the only other possibility, but don't assume that a new four year deal (the gold standard for most rookie extensions) is the only option here. Longer deals have more risk for teams, so a two- or three-year deal might well strike the right balance between locking up an asset without betting the farm on a player the Bucks have obvious (and justifiable) questions about. Meanwhile, Jennings should also be willing to do a shorter deal as a compromise--it's not as financially risky as taking the QO, but would still enable him to leave Milwaukee two or three years from now if he so chooses. The devil is in the details of course, but there's plenty of room to play here by adding options and of course moving the dollar amounts. A third-year player option would give Jennings a good deal more flexibility/insurance, while the Bucks would obviously benefit from a team option or partially guaranteed final year. The Bucks can pull the QO without losing their matching rights on October 1, so if it's the end of September and nothing has changed, would Jennings really turn down a three-year, $24 million deal with a third year player option? I'm not saying it's the perfect solution, but at least it might be a solution.

RealGM: Sanders sprains ankle...but nothing too serious
Shams Charnia tweets good news regarding Larry Sanders' sprained ankle:

Charles Gardner writes that Sanders was understandably disappointed after spraining the ankle during Tuesday's Team USA Select camp scrimmage.

"I want to play," a disappointed Sanders said. "LD (Bucks coach Larry Drew) was here. I felt like I was getting that second wind today.

"Unfortunate. I have to get an MRI. It looks like a sprain, though. It's pretty swollen."

Feel better, Larry!

Lowe: NBA offseason moves - assessing the winners, tankers, and everything in between
Zach Lowe serves up a rather on-point summary of the off-season so far, including a detailed take on the Bucks. Most interesting to me is his reference to a near max deal for Sanders--I don't doubt that Larry will command eight figures if he hits free agency, but at this point I think (hope?) Serge Ibaka's four year, $48 million deal is the upper limit of what he would command. The danger is another team gives him a Roy Hibbert-like max offer when he hits restricted free agency, which is one major reason that the Bucks would be well-served to try locking him up this summer.

Vegas Recaps!

  • TrueHoop TV | All you can eat with John Henson
  • | Henson among Vegas all-stars.
  • SB Nation | Seth Rosenthal is great, and so is his Encyclopedia of Summer League Curiosities.
  • Grantland | Andrew Sharp serves up his Six Degrees of Summer League | Scouting Wolters
Good stuff here from our man Alex Boeder, who chats with director of scouting Billy McKinney about all things Nate Wolters.

Initially, in addition to being able to run a team, I think he will be a really good defender. He is quicker than he appears, and there is a very good possibility he will be able to guard point guards as well shooting guards due to his size. We felt like, when we drafted him, one of the questions we were asked was, if there was a game tomorrow, could you put him in a game? And we all felt comfortable we could do that.

Woelfel | Bucks still interested in Gary Neal
The Spurs have pulled their qualifying offer for restricted free agent Gary Neal, meaning that he's now free to sign with anyone. And Gery Woelfel tweets that Milwaukee remains a possible destination:

My one-sentence scouting report on Neal: he's more of a two than a one, a "meh" defender and was a fairly efficient perimeter scorer in his first two seasons in San Antonio before falling off a bit last season. The Bucks need swingmen more than combo guards, but you could certainly do worse than Neal among the guys currently available. In summary, I can't summon the emotional energy to feel too strongly one way or the other about Neal.

And in case you're wondering, the Bucks have about $8.7 million in cap space assuming they don't waive Gustavo Ayon tomorrow (deadline for him becoming guaranteed) and keep their $7.9 million cap hold on Jennings. They also have the room exception available, which allows for a starting salary of up to $2.6 million for two years. I would assume that of their three remaining roster spots, one will be used on Jennings or his replacement and the other two will be for either two wings or a wing and a combo guard.

Twitter | The market for Zaza
While far from a Gadzuric-level mistake, Zaza Pachulia's three-year, $15.6 million contract always felt just a bit too rich for a backup center, right? HOOPSWORLD's Lang Greene tweets: