There is frustration and there is Brandon Jennings. His shot selection, his id/ego/super ego battle — all of it. As hard as it can be to differentiate between the two, though, there is a difference between “frustration” and “Brandon Jennings” that the young point guard and the Bucks may have to parse out over the next 14-16 months if he is not traded before tomorrow’s deadline. Instead of being traded or forcing the franchise’s hand in free agency, Jennings could choose the very real option of playing out one final year as a Buck.
Since the Bucks will likely extend Jennings a qualifying offer this summer, Milwaukee will be able to match any offer sheet he receives from another team. If/when he gets an offer, the scenario could play out one of three** ways:
1) Another team decides the high-volume, low-efficiency guard deserves a max or near-max contract, offers him one and Jennings is allowed to walk.
2) John Hammond matches such an offer sheet an locks down Jennings for the next half-decade or so.
3) The Bucks match any reasonable (read: not approaching maximum money) deal thrown Jennings’ way.
The first and second situations are unrealistic since B.J. is not likely to fetch big dollars on the (relatively) open market, and No. 2 would invalidate all the work that earned Hammond a contract extension of his own by retaining what has become a headache at a high cost.
The final option is entirely plausible and potentially frightening for anyone who has weighed the pros and cons of the current team-player marriage. That group may well include Hammond, Jennings and his recently hired agent. They are the principles of this drama and, for the sake of the supporting cast and themselves, they may be wise to acknowledge the fact that everyone can get what they want or need if Jennings refuses to sign any offer sheets this summer.
One year is a lot of time in terms of an NBA career — the average player lasts just 4.7 years in the Association — but Jennings has underperformed in a year that was supposed to serve as a tryout for other teams. He was supposed to put on a show, but not the kind he has, filled with minor progressions and more confounding play than flashes of brilliance. Jennings must now recognize the facts that he will not be offered superstar money and signing a sheet offering anything less will ensure the Bucks match it in order to keep the self-termed face of the franchise.
By staying quiet and soldiering on through one more season, Jennings can get a do-over and explore greener pastures in summer 2014, if he so chooses. Whether or not Jennings is mature enough to realize that is anyone’s guess. Most signs point to not, but unless Jennings wants to commit to being a Buck for the foreseeable future, he will have to compromise, swallow his pride and make the most of a second chance in order to move on to his second NBA team.