Brandon Jennings made plenty of Bucks fans nervous on Friday, thanks to a quote about his thoughts on future free agency that was reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com
“I am going to keep my options open, knowing that the time is coming up,” Jennings said. “I’m doing my homework on big-market teams.”
The “big-market teams” part is the most troubling phrase for Milwaukee obviously, even though in the rest of the interview, Jennings makes it pretty clear that he, like all free agents, is going to carefully weigh his options when the time comes.
“I’m not saying I won’t (sign an extension with the Bucks) and I’m not saying I will,” he said, in the very same piece. “I’m just keeping my options open.”
Harmless stuff, especially considering that the only relatively immediate action that could come regarding Jennings and free agency is his ability to sign a long-term contract extension with Milwaukee after this season. If he chooses not to, he still wouldn’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2014.
Fans will read into this what they like, but the reality is that we’re still a pretty long way from Jennings fleeing Milwaukee for a so-called big-market team. Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Jennings about this very subject at the beginning of January, when his Bucks were in Phoenix to face the Suns. And I asked him about Milwaukee as an organization, and if he’d consider signing to stay with them for the majority of his career.
“I’m happy here,” Jennings told NBCSports.com. “Small, big market, whatever you want to call it. As long as I’m in the NBA playing and doing what I love, it’s just a blessing at the end of the day. That’s how I see it.”
As for whether star players would ever align in a city like Milwaukee as they have recently in Miami and New York, Jennings didn’t seem to think the city was the primary concern. It’s playing for a winning organization that he believes would ultimately attract the big-name free agents.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to start winning, though, to attract players and things like that,” Jennings said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more about the market, it’s more the tradition and how the team is. If you’re winning, they’ll come.”
This seems to be in line with the part in Broussard’s report where he cites sources saying that Jennings is “frustrated with the direction of the franchise.”
The good news for the Bucks is that they have some time to try to get things turned around to the point where Jennings will want to sign a long-term deal. He seems genuinely fine with playing in Milwaukee, and as long as the team can attract some additional talent to play alongside him, Jennings may very well be content to stay.
“I’m here, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the city,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re in the NBA. So you’re doing what you love, no matter where you’re at, no matter what city you’re in.”