NBA Saturday: Jennings Weighing Options
Brandon Jennings is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks this summer. On the other hand, he can sign a qualifying offer after next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014. While very few players test free agency after their rookie contract expires, Jennings has made it clear that he’s keeping his options open.
“I don’t know what the future holds, at the end of the day, but I am happy here,” Jennings told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m not upset or mad or anything like that. I’m comfortable here. This is where I’ve been for three years so I’ve adapted to the city. I’ve embraced the city and everything like that. I just don’t know what the future holds.”
Last week, Jennings made headlines when he told ESPN.com that he was doing his “homework on big-market teams.” Fans in Milwaukee weren’t happy with this comment and Jennings was heavily criticized. He was surprised by the reaction and, on Friday, defended his quotes.
“It was a lot of negative stuff,” Jennings said of the reaction. “People were telling me I’m not CP3, I’m not Dwight Howard, I’m not LeBron James or anything like that. But, at the end of the day, I never said I was. Just because I said I’m keeping my options open doesn’t mean that I’m leaving. That’s just like anybody who has a regular job in this world. You’re always going to keep your options open for better. You just never know what type of opportunity will come your way. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving or anything like that. Just keep your options open; always keep your ears open to everything.”
While Jennings will keep his options open, he doesn’t have any complaints about his current situation in Milwaukee. He appreciates the opportunity that the Bucks have given him.
“It’s been great,” Jennings said about his time in Milwaukee. “At the end of day, I was the tenth pick in the NBA draft and I’ve been starting here for the last three years. What more can you ask for? I say that as a kid who dreamed about playing in the NBA.”
Jennings also acknowledged that it is possible for a player to become a superstar in a small-market.
“If you’re doing your thing and you’re being consistent about it, they’ll come find you,” Jennings said. “They’ll give you attention. You’ve got to look at Kevin Durant. He’s in a small market and they’re getting a lot of attention.”
The 22-year-old is having the best year of his career and he hopes his consistent production will lead to more recognition going forward. Jennings wasn’t named an All-Star this year, but he was in the conversation for the first time in his career.
“I’m not really surprised,” Jennings said of the All-Star snub. “I was having a pretty good year, but the main thing is that I just wanted to be in the conversation. I wanted to put the buzz in people’s ear to let them know that I’m ready for the next big step. I’m not mad and I’m not upset about it. Not a lot of people even get to be in the conversation so it’s just a great opportunity. I just know I have to work even harder next summer to come back and try to make it.”
Now, Jennings is focused on getting the Bucks into the postseason. They currently sit at 12-18, one spot outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Jennings said that the Bucks ran into some obstacles early, but he hopes that they can turn things around over the next couple of months.
“I think the fact that we have a lot of injuries kind of sets us back every year,” Jennings said. “With Bogut going down, that kind of killed our spirits a little bit. The fact that he came into the season healthy, 100 percent, and then sprains his ankle, you’ve got to deal with that. I think for us, we’ve just got to find our way. We’re always close. Last year, we were two games out of the playoffs. Right now, we’re in ninth and we need to try and make a run before All-Star break.”
Whether or not Jennings will stay in Milwaukee for the long haul remains to be seen. Going forward, he’ll do his best to lead the Bucks, expand his game and keep his options open.
Suns, Clippers Hold Free Agent Workouts: The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers have been holding private workouts in an attempt to find a swingman worth adding to their roster, according to sources close to the situation.
This week, the Suns worked out a number of shooting guards and small forwards including Jermaine Taylor, Michael Finley and Al Thornton among others.
Yesterday, the Clippers held a workout of their own that was attended by Taylor, Finley and Bobby Simmons.
Both teams will continue to evaluate players and weigh their options in the coming weeks.
Phoenix already has Jared Dudley, Grant Hill, Shannon Brown, Josh Childress and Michael Redd on their roster. The Suns wanted to take a look at these players just in case they need to make an addition later in the season.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, could use a shooting guard to back-up Randy Foye, especially after losing Chauncey Billups for the season due to a torn left Achilles tendon. With that said, the Clippers have made it clear that they won’t sign anyone until after the All-Star break.
Taylor played 26 games with the Sacramento Kings last season and averaged 7.1 points. When inserted into the starting lineup, the 25-year-old has shown that he can score at will. He nearly signed a deal with the Houston Rockets before the season, but his deal was voided after he failed a physical due to an ankle injury.
Finley, a 15-year NBA veteran, is hoping to make a comeback this season. He was drafted by the Suns in 1995 and went on to have success with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. The 38-year-old last played with the Boston Celtics during the 2009-10 season.
Thornton spent the second half of last season with the Golden State Warriors. After posting impressive individual numbers with the Los Angeles Clippers, the 28-year-old was traded to the Washington Wizards and bought out.
Simmons is a nine-year veteran, who last played with the San Antonio Spurs. He spent two years with the Clippers early in his career so a return to Los Angeles makes sense.
The Suns and Clippers are currently on opposite ends of the spectrum in the Western Conference. Phoenix is 12-18 and holds the third-worst record in conference while Los Angeles is 19-9 and sits at the third seed.
NBA Players Returning From China: Now that the Chinese Basketball Association’s regular season is over, plenty of former NBA players can return home and try to land on a team. J.R. Smith was the biggest name to leave China after his team missed the playoffs, but there are a lot of role players who will be trying to make a roster over the next few weeks.
Josh Powell, Rodney Carney, Lester Hudson, Cartier Martin, Gani Lawal and Marcus Williams are among the players who are available now. As teams are eliminated from the postseason, even more players will be eligible to return to the United States and sign with NBA teams including Wilson Chandler, Aaron Brooks, Shavlik Randolph and Mike Harris among others.
The CBA’s postseason will start on February 22 and could last as long as March 30.
Wafer Deserves More Minutes: The Orlando Magic’s offense has been incredibly inconsistent this season and, at times, hard to watch. The team is averaging just 93.57 points and shooting 43.6 percent from the field, even with Dwight Howard’s 20.1 points per game and 55 percent field goal percentage.
While Jason Richardson has been playing better as of late, the Magic still lack players who can create their own shot and the solution to their problem is already on their bench. Von Wafer, when given significant minutes, has played very well this season and provided scoring off the bench.
Wafer has been a sparkplug, but recently fell out of Stan Van Gundy’s rotation. The numbers show that Wafer has been a solid contributor on the offensive end. In the nine games that Wafer has played at least 15 minutes, he has averaged 9.3 points. He’s shooting 49.3 percent from the field and he’s averaging 1.373 points per shot, the second-highest totals on the team trailing only Howard.
The 26-year-old is averaging 22 points per 48 minutes and hasn’t made many mistakes when given minutes. While he’s not as comfortable in the system as Richardson and J.J. Redick, who aren’t new to the team, he deserves some playing time based on his production.
HOOPSWORLD Chat: There is one chat on the schedule today. HOOPSWORLD’s Derek Page will take your questions at 5 p.m. ET. Go ask Derek a question now because his chat fills up fast.