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Brandon Jennings wants big money, Bucks to improve to keep him this summer

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Brandon Jennings has never lacked for self-confidence.

Jennings is a restricted free agent next summer — meaning the Milwaukee Bucks have the power because they can match any offer the young point guard gets — but he was the one trying to play hardball Friday.

Jennings said that this summer he not only wants a big contract but also added the Bucks need to improve the roster and make it a contender, in speaking to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Jennings considers Milwaukee a “great sports town” and has enjoyed his time there, but in order to keep him long term, Jennings said the Bucks’ offer must be lucrative and there needs to be changes in the roster and the organization to make it championship caliber.

He turned down a four-year, $40 million deal prior to this season, a source told Yahoo!

Jennings might make a little more than that offer this summer — he brought in a new agent to see that he does — but not that much. The reason is he’s not THAT good. Which is the same reason he’s not been an All-Star — sorry Brandon, it’s not the market, it’s your play.

Jennings scores 18.4 points a game this year but is shooting just 40.3 percent. He is quick and can get to the rim, but finishes just 52.5 percent of his shots when he gets there (via Hoopdata). Jennings gets most of his shots (36.8 percent of his attempts) as the ball handler on pick-and-rolls and he scores a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession that way shooting 40.7 percent (from Synergy Sports). He’s developed a good three-point shot and can punish teams that go under the pick, but when he has to attack he doesn’t finish (he shoots just 46.3 percent inside nine feet). Jennings is also not a strong spot up shooter (hitting 36.7 percent of his shots) and struggles in half court isolation sets (shooting 26.2 percent).

Jennings is good; he’s a quality starting point guard. But he’s a couple steps below the league’s elite point guards and that’s not because he plays in Milwaukee.

If the Bucks want to keep him — and by all accounts they do, but both Mona Ellis and J.J. Redick are free agents this summer, too — they can match any offer he gets this summer. Jennings’ only real leverage is the threat he would sign a one-year qualifying offer with the Bucks, for about $4.5 million, play out next season then become an unrestricted free agent. That is what he was talking about with Spears, maybe taking that offer to give him a path out of Milwaukee.

But that leaves a lot of money on the table and is a huge risk — this summer Jennings is going to get offers in the $10 million to $12 million a year range for four years. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table to take a one-year deal. One freak injury could take all that money away. This is Jennings first contract after his rookie deal, his first big kick at the can, and that is one good players usually sign to get the big paydays and money in the bank. Then with their next deal they think about moving on.

But Jennings is talking big. He’s never lacked for self confidence.

After two years off court, Joel Embiid says he “probably” will have minutes restrictions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers takes a shot from the bench prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.

But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.

This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.

Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies  during the first quarter at TD Garden on March 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.

Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.

“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.

Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.

Watch highlights of LeBron James’ playoffs, Finals run

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LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.

It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?

It’s Joel Embiid’s turn to swat a little kid’s shot (VIDEO)

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 03: Joel Embiid #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot at MSG Training Center on August 3, 2014 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.

This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.